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UN Khashoggi report to be made public before June, says investigator

Agnes Callamard says investigation will be out before human rights council session, as she scopes out consulate neighbourhood
Agnes Callamard (R), UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, stands behind barriers in front of of the Saudi Consulate, in Istanbul (AFP)

The United Nations official leading an investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s murder said on Tuesday that her report will be made public before June.

Speaking outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where journalist Khashoggi was killed and dismembered on 2 October by a hit squad dispatched from Riyadh, Agnes Callamard said her report would come out before June’s UN human rights council session.

"The report will be made public a few weeks before I present it to the human rights council in Geneva, so end of May possibly," the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions said.

Callamard, an independent expert hired by the UN, headed to the neighbourhood where the consulate is located on Tuesday morning to do some preliminary investigations.

She said she had asked the Saudi authorities for permission to enter the consulate, which remains open for consular uses.

We are respectfully calling on the authorities to give us access at some stage while we are here

- Agnes Callamard, UN investigator

The Saudis have previously been reluctant to allow Turkish investigators into the building, carrying out refurbishments in the days immediately after Khashoggi disappeared inside the consulate.

"To be fair the request to them has come quite late, so we need to give them a bit more time to process our request," she told reporters.

"We are respectfully calling on the authorities to give us access at some stage while we are here."

"We just wanted to have a sense of it," she added, explaining why she had gone to the consulate without permission to enter.

Saudis uncooperative

Callamard’s investigation adds pressure on the Saudi authorities over Khashoggi’s murder.

In the days after the alarm was raised that the Saudi journalist didn’t emerge from the consulate, Riyadh insisted that the Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist had left unscathed.

Since then, the official Saudi line has altered several times, though the government has always insisted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was unaware of the plot and its botched cover-up.

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The CIA, however, has concluded that the 33-year-old heir to the Saudi throne almost certainly signed off on the operation.

Saudi King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to coordinate investigations into the murder.

However, when the Saudi investigators arrived in Istanbul in late October, their Turkish counterparts found them supremely uncooperative.

On Tuesday, Callamard is expected to meet with Istanbul’s top prosecutor, who has been leading the Turkish investigation.

Last month a trial into some of the suspects opened in Riyadh, with those involved not named.

Two of Mohammed bin Salman’s close allies have been implicated by the Saudi prosecutor, but one of them, top aide Saud al-Qahtani, has reportedly walked free and remains in contact with the crown prince.