(CNN)The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was “gruesome” but a United Nations report into the journalist’s killing is “flawed,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Thursday.
“This is a gruesome murder that took place without authorization, for which the people who perpetrated (it) are being punished now,” al-Jubeir said.
In a much-anticipated report published Wednesday, UN investigator Agnes Callamard said that there was “sufficient credible evidence” that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bears responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing, and that he should be investigated for it.
Callamard said that Saudi Arabia was responsible under international law for Khashoggi’s “deliberate, premeditated execution,” and that current sanctions on some senior officials do not go far enough.
“We disagree with her conclusions,” al-Jubeir told CNN. “We don’t believe she has a mandate, we believe that her report is flawed, we believe there are internal contradictions in the report, we believe it was based on media reporting and anonymous sources, we believe the description of the trials in Saudi Arabia, calling them secret, is not correct.”
According to the report — which cites evidence from Turkish and other intelligence agencies — after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, Khashoggi was injected with a sedative and then suffocated before he was killed and dismembered.
It quotes an audio recording from inside the consulate, in which Khashoggi is heard being told he will be taken to Saudi Arabia.
During the interview, al-Jubeir was read part of a transcript from an audio recording. Al-Jubeir responded by saying the incident should never have taken place.
“This should not have happened,” al-Jubeir said.
He added that Saudi prosecutors should be the ones leading the investigation.
“They’re in court, they’re on trial and they will be punished. We have made this very clear,” al-Jubeir said.
He said the procedures of the Saudi Arabian intelligence services had been reviewed so that “mechanisms are put in place to ensure this does not happen again.”
Khashoggi’s death — along with the continued fallout from it — has caused a diplomatic crisis for Riyadh, tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s image on the international stage.
Eleven suspects are on trial in Riyadh over Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of them.
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