Jamal Khashoggi was likely drugged with sedatives and suffocated with a plastic bag, a new UN investigation into his murder has found.
“Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Mr Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag,” wrote Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in a report published Wednesday and reviewed by Business Insider.
Washington Post journalist Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey at 1:14 p.m. on October 2, 2018, but never came out.
On October 21, 2018, Saudi Arabia claimed he was murdered by a “rogue” operation, and denied the government had ordered his death.
The UN report contains transcripts of audio taken inside the consulate, provided to the UN by Turkish authorities.
According to an audio recording taken at 9:48 p.m. on October 1, and studied by UN investigators, an unidentified Saudi man says:
“A commission is coming from Saudi Arabia tomorrow. They have something to do in the consulate … Their work inside will take two or three days.”
Khashoggi had an appointment to secure divorce paperwork at the embassy on October 2. He arrived for it, but he never left the consulate.
According to audio recorded at 1:02 p.m. on October 2, quoted in the UN report, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a Saudi intelligence operative, asked if it would “be possible to put the trunk in a bag.”
The reply from Dr. Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics, was:
“No. Too heavy. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.”
According to the UN, the audio records show Khashoggi asked staff members after they had confronted him: “There is a towel here. Are you going to give me drugs?”
An unidentified Saudi man replied: “We will anaesthetize you.”
The UN report added: “Sounds of movement and heavy panting could be heard in the remainder of the recordings.”
The exact method of Khashoggi’s killing has so far been unclear.
One Turkish intelligence source told the Middle East Eye Khashoggi was dismembered while he was still alive, one anonymous Saudi official told Reuters he was killed by chokehold, and a separate Saudi government official said he was killed in a fist fight.
Callamard’s investigation began on January 29, 2019, nearly four months after Khashoggi was murdered.
As well as revealing new details about Khashoggi’s death, the report also makes several recommendations.
It states “there is credible evidence” to investigate Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over his possible role in the murder of the Washington Post journalist .
A number of US Senators announced on December 5, 2018, they had a “high level of confidence” that bin Salman was “complicit” in the brutal killing of Khashoggi.
The report also says that Khashoggi was the victim of a “deliberate, premeditated execution” for which the state of Saudi Arabia is “responsible.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister claimed in an interview with Fox News on October 21, 2018 that Khashoggi was killed in a rogue operation, which was not government sanctioned.
The UN reports also claims that the Turkish and Saudi investigations into his murder have not been carried out to international standards.
“The Special Rapporteur has found that both the investigations conducted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths.”
The report also said the Saudi investigation has so far failed to “deliver credible accountability.”
“The trial is held behind closed doors; the identity of those charged has not been released nor is the identity of those facing death penalty. At the time of writing, at least one of those identified as responsible for the planning and organizing of the execution of Mr. Khashoggi has not been charged.”
“The trial underway in Saudi Arabia will not deliver credible accountability.”
Callamard, British barrister Helena Kennedy, and Duarte Nuno Vieira, a professor at Coimbra University, Portugal, made up the three-person team authoring the UN report.
They visited Turkey between January 28 and February 7 as part of their investigation.
After the trio returned on February 7, Callamard said: “Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prime facie case that Mr Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia.”