Saudi Arabia rebuffs U.N. expert's report on Khashoggi murder

A member of Amnesty International Turkey holds a symbolic street sign during a demonstration to mark the 100th day of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing in front of Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs on Wednesday rejected a U.N. report that said there is credible evidence Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials are liable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Nothing new... The rapporteur in the human rights council repeats in her non-binding report what has been published and circulated in the media,” tweeted Adel al-Jubeir.

The report “contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility”, he added.

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, concluded that Khashoggi’s murder was deliberate and premeditated but made no conclusion as to guilt. Her report relies on recordings and forensic work conducted by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia.

That trial should be suspended, she said, citing concerns over secret hearings and a potential miscarriage of justice.

Jubeir rejected any attempt to influence the trial or remove it from the Saudi judicial process.

He said in a later statement published by state news agency SPA that the report contained “false accusations confirmed as stemming from Callamard’s preconceived ideas and positions towards the kingdom”, and said Riyadh retained the right to take legal action in response to its claims.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was a critic of the crown prince, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 by Saudi officials, provoking widespread anger and tarnishing the image of the young prince.

Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alistair Bell