Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Leading rights groups and media watchdogs have expressed alarm at a possible “whitewash” in the investigation into Saudi Arabia’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Riyadh on Saturday announced the arrest of 18 Saudis and the sacking of two top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as part of its “probe” into the killing.
Amnesty International said the “impartiality” of a Saudi probe into the case would remain in question after the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul.
“All along we were concerned about a whitewash, or an investigation by the entity suspected of involvement itself,” the London-based rights group’s Rawya Rageh said.
“The impartiality of a Saudi investigation would remain in question,” she added.
Rageh said human rights organizations have underlined the need for “an impartial and independent investigation by the UN to find out what happened and ensure justice” for Khashoggi.
The remarks came after Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said that Khashoggi had died after “discussions” at the consulate turned into “a brawl and a fist fight.”
The admission of Khashoggi’s murder at the hands of Saudi officials followed more than two weeks of denials by the kingdom of any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the international community to keep up pressure on Saudi Arabia to get the whole truth about Khashoggi’s case.
RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire blasted Riyadh for imprisoning, kidnapping and even killing journalists.
“Any attempt to get rid of the pressure on Saudi Arabia and to accept a compromise policy would result in giving a ‘license to kill’ to a Kingdom that puts in jail, lashes, kidnaps and even kills journalists who dare to investigate and launch debates,” he tweeted.
“After the recognition of Khashoggi’s death, we expect a determined, constant and powerful pressure to be kept on Saudi Arabia in order to get the whole truth on the case and the release of Saudi Arabian journalists (who have) been condemned to crazy and horrible sentences.”
However, the United Arab Emirates, which is Saudi Arabia’s key ally in a devastating war on Yemen, hailed the kingdom for its response to Khashoggi’s death.
“The United Arab Emirates welcomes the decisions and the directives by King Salman,” regarding the Khashoggi affair, state news agency WAM said.
Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime, vanished at the Saudi mission in Istanbul on October 2.
Audio recordings from within the consulate suggested that a team of 15 Saudi agents, among them a forensics expert, had been waiting when Khashoggi walked into the building to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. The agents were also reported to have brought a bone saw with themselves.
Media reports said that several of the Saudi hit squad were from bin Salman’s personal security staff.
Turkey vowed Saturday to reveal all details of the death, the Anadolu news agency reported.
“Turkey will reveal whatever had happened. Nobody should ever doubt about it,” said Omer Celik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).