Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur for the U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, conducted a five-month investigation into Khashoggi's death last fall at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Her resulting report, released today, found that "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's report says the mission to "execute Khashoggi" required significant coordination, resources and finances. It adds that every expert consulted for the report found 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."
Western intelligence agencies, including in the U.S., have already assessed that the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi's death, but this report is from an independent investigator. The crown prince, who is also known as MBS, has repeatedly denied any involvement.
The kingdom's minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, tweeted that there is "nothing new" in the findings. "The report contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations, which challenges its credibility," Jubeir said.
The conversations on the recordings are haunting. Shortly before Khashoggi arrives at the consulate on Oct. 2, 2018, two members of the hit team, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, an intelligence officer, and Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, a forensic doctor, discuss how to dispose of the body. The report states:
The recordings also detail the final moments of Khashoggi's life, according to the report:"At 13:02, inside the Consulate, Mr. Mutreb and Dr. Tubaigy had a conversation just minutes before Mr. Khashoggi entered. Mr. Mutreb asked whether it will 'be possible to put the trunk in a bag?'
"Dr. Tubaigy replied 'No. Too heavy.' He expressed hope that it would 'be easy. Joints will be separated. 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.' 'Leather bags.' There was a reference to cutting skin. Dr. Tubaigny also expressed concerns: 'My direct manager is not aware of what I am doing. There is nobody to protect me.'
"At the end of the conversation, Mr. Mutreb asked whether 'the sacrificial animal' has arrived. At 13:13, a voice said 'he has arrived.' In these recordings heard by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Khashoggi's name was not mentioned."
Callamard says assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag."In the recordings, sounds of a struggle can be heard during which the following statements could also be heard: 'Did he sleep?' 'He raises his head.' 'Keep pushing.' 'Push here; don't remove your hand; push it.' "
Eleven suspects in Khashoggi's killing are on trial in Saudi Arabia; five people face the death penalty. In her report, Callamard calls for the kingdom to suspend the trial, saying it doesn't meet international standards."Sounds of movement and heavy panting could be heard in the remainder of the recordings. The sound of plastic sheets (wrapping) could also be heard. Turkish Intelligence concluded that these came after Mr. Khashoggi's death while the Saudi officials were dismembering his body. The Turkish Intelligence assessment identified the sound of a saw at 13:39. The Special Rapporteur and her delegation could not make out the sources of the sounds they heard."
Callamard lists several recommendations at the end of her report, including urging the FBI to conduct an investigation into Khashoggi's killing if it hasn't already done so. She also recommends an international investigation.
That investigation, she tells NPR, should focus on "individual criminal liabilities."