New York: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said that the world body has not received requests from other countries to initiate a criminal investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Guterres said that he himself does not have the power to launch any criminal probe unless the Security Council provides a mandate that recognises a matter could be a threat to world peace and security.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, went missing on October 2 last year after he stepped into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to collect paperwork that would allow him to get married to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who later said that he never appeared from the building.
“I don’t have the right to launch any investigation, there is huge confusion about what the Secretary-General can and can’t do. I do not have the right to launch a criminal investigation myself and no formal criminal investigation was requested to me by any member state,” he was quoted by Anadolu News Agency as saying while briefing reporters at the UN headquarters here.
The UN chief underlined that the Human Rights Council has the power to investigate Khashoggi’s killing.
“The Human Rights Council has the possibility to take decisions in relation to launching different forms of interaction. There are many instruments the Human Rights Council can use, requested by member states, and I am not in a position to encourage member states. I’m saying these instruments are available,” Guterres added.
After presenting several contradictory theories, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate premises in what the country’s then Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had described as a “rogue operation” led by two officials – the Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad al-Assiri and the Royal Court Adviser Saud al-Qahtani – who have since been sacked.
Last December, UN Human Rights Chief Michele Bachelet said that the murder of the Saudi scribe does require an international investigation.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia held the initial hearing in the Khashoggi murder case, wherein the public prosecutor sought the death penalty for five of the 11 accused for their alleged direct involvement in the murder.
Investigations into Khashoggi’s killing are still going on in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report inferred the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to be behind the scribe’s death – the allegations of which have been repeatedly and strongly refuted by Riyadh.