The Slatest

U.N. Report Says There’s “Credible Evidence” Saudi Crown Prince Is Criminally Liable for Khashoggi Murder

President Donald Trump looks over at Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman during a G-20 summit.
Uh-oh. Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

A U.N. report released Wednesday heaped additional scrutiny on the Saudi regime, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying there is “credible evidence” liability for the “extrajudicial killing” of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi goes well beyond the 15-person mission that carried out the brutal killing at Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. The 101-page report is the culmination of months of investigation by human rights expert Agnès Callamard, who was not allowed into Saudi Arabia as part of the probe. In the report, Callamard elevated blame to the highest reaches of the Saudi leadership, while calling the country’s investigation and prosecution of the matter insufficient. “It is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,” Callamard wrote. “There is credible evidence warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s.

“Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances,” Callamard continued. “While the Saudi government claims that these resources were put in place by Ahmed Asiri, every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the Crown Prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr. Khashoggi, was being launched.” Asiri, the former deputy intelligence chief, is the only senior official to go on trial for the murder.

The report also uncovered new details surrounding the murder in the days and hours leading up to Khashoggi’s arrival at the Saudi consulate to retrieve documents needed for his upcoming marriage. Tapes provided to the U.N. by Turkish officials detailed how officials in the Saudi Consulate discussed the logistics of dismembering the contributing columnist to the Washington Post. In one recording, a Saudi official asked if it would “be possible to put the trunk in a bag.” Another replied: “No. Too heavy. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.” The report also added grisly detail about how the assassination took place and that after entering the consulate the 59-year-old Khashoggi was forcefully sedated.

While the report did not explicitly finger Mohammed bin Salman for the murder, it did find “credible evidence meriting further investigation by a proper authority” to determine whether the “threshold of criminal responsibility has been met.”