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article imageUN legal expert to present Khashoggi report before June

By AFP     Jan 29, 2019 in World

A UN judicial expert tasked with investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said Tuesday she would present her report by the end of May.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, carried out an inspection outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where the regime critic was killed on October 2 by a Saudi hit squad which Ankara says was sent from Riyadh.

Speaking to journalists outside the mission, Callamard said her report would be made public in time for the June session of the UN human rights council.

"The report will be made public a few weeks before I present it to the human rights council in Geneva, so end of May possibly," she said.

Callamard, an independent expert appointed by the United Nations, on Monday met Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in Ankara before travelling to Istanbul.

She had a four-hour meeting Tuesday with Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan at the city's main court and left without making any comment.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate
Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate

Riyadh, after denying the killing for two weeks, finally described it as a "rogue" operation and arrested a number of senior Saudi officials.

But the murder tipped the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises. Nearly four months on, Khashoggi's body has still not been recovered.

Callamard said her team contacted Saudi authorities for access to conduct an inspection inside the consulate "as well as meeting with Saudi authorities here and in Saudi Arabia.

"We are waiting for their response," she said.

Callamard and her team did not enter the consulate.

"To be fair the request to them has come quite late, so we need to give them a bit more time to process our request," she said.

"We are respectfully calling on the authorities to give us access at some stage while we are here."

- 'Bold move'-

Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), blasted the Saudi failure to respond to the UN delegation's request as a "scandal".

"It's an approach that shows a lack of cooperation and an attempt to cover up some things," he told A Haber television.

Turkish officials accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of having orchestrated the killing, which Riyadh denies.

Louis Charbonneau, UN Director of Human Rights Watch, praised Callamard's "bold" move and said it contrasted with UN chief Antonio Guterres' "inaction."

"The decision by the United Nations special rapporteur ... to investigate the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi shows courage and initiative," he said.

"It is likely to anger Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's allies."

And it contrasts with the "reluctance" of Guterres to work with Turkey to set up a UN investigation following the murder, he added.

Unhappy with Riyadh's cooperation in the Turkish investigation, Ankara has called for an international inquiry.

Eleven men are on trial in Saudi Arabia accused of involvement in the murder with the attorney-general seeking the death penalty for five of the defendants.

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