September 20, 2019

U.N. Investigator Arrives in Turkey to Start Jamal Khashoggi Inquiry

U.N. Investigator Arrives in Turkey to Start Jamal Khashoggi Inquiry


ISTANBUL — A United Nations investigation team arrived in Turkey on Monday to start an inquiry into the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi three months ago inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Agnès Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, met with the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara at the beginning of the planned weeklong visit. The minister posted a photograph of the meeting on Twitter.

Ms. Callamard said the inquiry was her own initiative, independent of the United Nations or any government. Turkey, however, had repeatedly said that it was considering requesting a United Nations investigation into the killing, because of frustration at Saudi Arabia’s failure to cooperate on a joint inquiry.

The Saudi government has placed 11 officials linked to the killing on trial in the capital, Riyadh, but has refused to extradite to Turkey any of those suspected of being involved.

Mr. Khashoggi disappeared after attending a meeting in the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2 in which he was hoping to obtain papers to allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. Saudi officials at first claimed that he had left the consulate alive, but later admitted that he had been murdered inside. His body was disposed of by a local collaborator, Saudi officials have said.

Soon after the disappearance, Turkish officials leaked details of their investigation to the news media, including photographs of members of a Saudi hit team arriving in Turkey and entering the consulate, and details of audio recordings of the Saudi operatives discussing and carrying out the killing and then dismembering the body.

In an escalating confrontation with Saudi Arabia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded answers from Riyadh and accountability from the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader. Mr. Erdogan has suggested that the operation against Mr. Khashoggi must have been approved by Saudi officials at the highest level, and possibly even by the crown prince himself.

Ms. Callamard’s inquiry is not a full-blown investigation that could lead to prosecutions, but she said she would be making recommendations about how to pursue the case.

“I will assess the steps taken by governments to address and respond to the killing, as well as the nature and extent of states’ and individuals’ responsibilities for the killing,” Ms. Callamard wrote in an emailed statement.

“The inquiry will make recommendations about how to ensure formal accountability for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi,” she added.

Ms. Callamard, a French human rights expert, is director of Global Freedom of Expression, an initiative of Columbia University, and has previously worked with Amnesty International.

Turkish news outlets reported that her team was also expected to meet with the Turkish justice minister, Abdulhamit Gul, and with Istanbul’s chief public prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, who has led the Khashoggi case.

The Turkish news channel CNN Turk said that Ms. Callamard would also meet with Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Ms. Cengiz accompanied Mr. Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate on the day of his disappearance and was the first to raise the alarm when he did not reappear.

Ms. Callamard said that she had also applied to visit Saudi Arabia and would approach other governments, such as that of the United States, for additional evidence.

The inquiry team will present its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June, Ms. Callamard’s statement said.





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