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article image'Urgent' need for international probe on Khashoggi killing: fiancee

By Nina LARSON (AFP)     Jun 25, 2019 in World

The Turkish fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday appealed for an international investigation into his "premeditated" killing amid evidence of high-level Saudi involvement.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and US resident, was killed last October by Saudi agents while at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork ahead of his wedding to Hatice Cengiz.

"There is an urgent need for an international investigation of this murder," Cengiz said at an event on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, speaking through a translator.

Her comments came after the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, released a damning report that found "credible evidence" linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing.

The independent rights expert, who does not speak for the United Nations but reports her findings to it, called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to initiate an international criminal investigation into the case.

"I don't think the world can afford to turn a blind eye or to turn the page on a killing such as that of Mr. Khashoggi," Callamard, who also took part in Tuesday's event, said.

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of Khashoggi's fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents, and Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince of responsibility.

But Callamard's report said probes by Saudi Arabia and Turkey "failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths".

- 'Political murder' -

The report said there was evidence of the crime scene being "thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned" by the Saudis, in what "may amount to obstructing justice".

"The investigation that is run in Saudi Arabia is not legitimate," Cengiz said, hailing Callamard's report as "significant" and helped avoid the case being "swept under the carpet".

"A country is accused of a murder… It is really a huge scandal," she said.

Cengiz, who was standing outside the consulate on October 2, 2018, waiting for her fiancee as he was being murdered inside, lamented that she had "been a witness of horrendous murder, political murder."

She said that she had yet to recover from the experience, pointing out that Khashoggi's body, which is known to have been dismembered, has not been found.

"Since I couldn't see his body, I still had a hope, like, is he really constrained somewhere.. is he alive?" she said.

But she insisted that her fiance's murder was far more than a personal trauma.

"We are not talking about a personal matter. We are talking about a massacre, we are talking about an assassination and premeditated murder" with international implications, she said.

"I don't want this incident to remain on a piece of paper," she said, referring to Callamard's report.

Initiating an international criminal investigation into the case would be "the reconfirmation of the legitimacy of the United Nations", she said.

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