Exclusive: UN expert to lead international inquiry into Khashoggi murder

 Exclusive: UN expert to lead international inquiry into Khashoggi murder

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions told Reuters on Thursday she will travel to Turkey next week to head an "independent international inquiry" into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at its consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2, provoking an international outcry.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was time for an international investigation and that President Tayyip Erdogan had ordered preparations to be made.

"I will be heading an independent international inquiry into the killing of Saudi journalist Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, commencing with a visit to Turkey from 28 January to 3 February 2019," independent U.N. investigator Agnes Callamard said in an email reply to Reuters in Geneva.

Callamard said that she would evaluate the circumstances of the crime, and "the nature and the extent of states' and individuals' responsibilities for the killing".

"My findings and recommendations will be reported to the U.N. Human Rights Council at the June 2019 session," she said.

The inquiry was being conducted at her request and three experts would accompany her, with forensic expertise amongst other skills, she said, declining to name them for now.

There was no immediate word on whether the team had sought access to Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi public prosecutor's spokesman said last year that 21 Saudis were taken into custody in relation to the case, 11 of whom have been indicted and referred to trial. Earlier this month the prosecutor said it was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 detained suspects.

Callamard, a French academic who is director of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression initiative at Columbia University in New York, reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and has a global mandate to investigate executions.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence, William Maclean)

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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2019 02:05:58 IST