The United Nations’ human rights office has said it could not assess the fairness of a trial taking place in Saudi Arabia into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, adding that it was “not sufficient”, reports Al Jazeera.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, asked on Friday about reports that a Saudi prosecutor had sought death sentence for five suspects linked to the October 2 killing, reiterated the UN office’s call for an independent investigation “with international involvement”.The UN rights office always opposed the death penalty, she added. The comments from the UN official came a day after the high-profile trial of the 11 suspects charged with Khashoggi’s murder opened in Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Thursday.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnishing the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The 59-year-old Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials.
Turkish media reports suggested his remains, which have never been found, were dissolved in acid. Rights groups have called for an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s killing.
“Given the possible involvement of Saudi authorities in Khashoggi’s murder and the lack of independence of Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system, the impartiality of any investigation and trial would be in question,” Samah Hadid, a Middle East director at Amnesty International, said on Thursday.
“This is why a UN-led and independent investigation is needed into the murder.”The Khashoggi murder rattled the world at a time when Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Prince Mohammed, were pushing an aggressive public relations campaign to rebrand the kingdom as a modern state.