Saudi Arabia does not need a UN or international investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi because its “competent legal system” can handle the matter, said its minister of state for foreign affairs.
Adel al-Jubeir told the US TV programme Face the Nation on Sunday that the October 2 slaying of the journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey was “a massive tragedy” and denied it was sanctioned by Saudi Arabia’s leadership.
US intelligence agencies concluded the killing would almost certainly have needed the approval of the kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). In December US senators backed a measure accusing MBS of ordering Khashoggi’s murder.
“The crown prince had nothing to do with this,” Jubeir said. “There was no order given to murder Jamal Khashoggi and the whole country is shocked by this.
“It was a mistake. It was committed by officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority. The king ordered an investigation,” said Jubeir.
Eleven suspects have been indicted and referred to trial in Saudi Arabia with five facing the death penalty. The proceedings have not been public.
‘Her own opinions’
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, carried out a week-long inquiry in Turkey into the Khashoggi killing and concluded in preliminary findings it was “a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia”.
Her final report is due in June.
Callamard said Saudi Arabia also “seriously undermined” Turkey’s efforts to investigate Khashoggi’s killing at its Istanbul consulate.
She has asked for access to Saudi Arabia and expressed “major concerns” about the fairness of proceedings for those facing trial in the kingdom over Khashoggi’s murder.
“The UN rapporteur that you talked to is not engaged in a UN investigation,” Jubeir said.
“She is doing this on her own, in her capacity as rapporteur of human rights, and she went to Turkey and she came back and issued opinions that are her own, these are not United Nations’ opinions,” he said.
He said there was no reason to allow UN access to the country for an investigation.
“We have done the right thing. We acknowledged that this happened, we acknowledged that these were officials of the Saudi government, we acknowledged that they had no authority to do this and we jailed them and now we’re putting them on trial,” he said.
‘We don’t know’
An audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder obtained by Turkish intelligence agencies has been shared with officials from Saudi Arabia, the US, Germany, France and the UK, as well as Callamard’s team.
The journalist was dismembered inside the consulate. Khashoggi’s remains have not been located.
“It is important for us that the body is found, that we have a place at which his beloved ones could say prayers,” said Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, on Friday.
Asked where Khashoggi’s body is, Jubeir said “we don’t know”.
He said they have asked the suspects, that there are “a number of possibilities” and “this investigation is ongoing”.
“I would expect eventually that we would find the truth.”