March 28, 2019
GENEVA (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s secretive hearings for 11 suspects accused in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi fall short of international standards and should be open to the public and trial observers, a U.N. human rights expert said on Thursday.
Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, who leads an international inquiry into the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, called on the kingdom to reveal the defendants’ names and the fate of 10 others initially arrested.
“The Government of Saudi Arabia is grievously mistaken if it believes that these proceedings, as currently constituted, will satisfy the international community, either in terms of procedural fairness under international standards or in terms of the validity of their conclusions,” she said in a statement.
The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.
The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.
Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed fired over the killing, is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.
Callamard, referring to diplomats from world powers on the U.N. Security Council who have attended some of the four hearings thusfar warned: “They risk being participants in a potential miscarriage of justice, possibly complicit should it be shown that the trials are marred by violations of human rights law”.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Hugh Lawson)