The head of the Saudi human rights commission said on Thursday that the kingdom was bringing those accused over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to justice and rejected an international investigation into the case.
Three dozen Western countries, including all 28 European Union members, called on Saudi Arabia last week to cooperate with a U.N.-led investigation into the murder of Khashoggi, a critic and Washington Post columnist.
Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban told the U.N. Human Rights Council that those on trial for the “heinous crime” and “unfortunate accident” at its Istanbul consulate on Oct 3 had attended three hearings so far with their lawyers present. He gave no names or details.
The Saudi public prosecutor’s spokesman said late last year that 11 Saudis had been indicted and referred for trial over the case, with authorities seeking the death penalty for five.
Some Western governments have accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of being implicated in the murder. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince.
Eleven suspects have been indicted in Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s murder and Riyadh has denied the crown prince ordered the killing.
“Justice in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia operates pursuant to international law and it does so in all transparency,” Aiban told the Geneva forum during a review of Saudi’s rights record.
He said the kingdom would not accept what he termed as foreign interference in its domestic affairs and judicial system.
Agnes Callamard, U.N. investigator on extrajudicial executions, said that Saudi officials have not responded to requests to cooperate with her investigation into the murder.
(Reporting by Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)