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Saudi moves to block international investigation into Khashoggi murder

SAUDI Arabia’s so-called human rights commission has rejected calls for an international investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, claiming his killers have already been punished.

Government spokesman Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban refused to name or give details on the culprits, calling Mr Khashoggi’s killing “an unfortunate accident.”

The Washington Post columnist was hacked to pieces last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as he collected papers for his forthcoming wedding. 

Authorities initially denied Mr Khashoggi had been killed, staging an elaborate cover-up. Saudi agents were seen to arrive in Turkey only to leave shortly after the murder.

Mr Aiban confirmed 11 faced trial over the journalist’s killing with prosecutors seeking the death penalty for five.

However he rejected calls for an international investigation warning against foreign interference in the reactionary Gulf state’s domestic or judicial affairs.

“Justice in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia operates pursuant to international law and it does so in all transparency,” he said.

Mr Khashoggi’s murder provoked international outrage bringing relations with Saudi Arabia under closer scrutiny.

However despite the criticisms US President Donald Trump ruled out sanctions against Riyadh and refused to cancel lucrative arms contracts fearing the impact on US jobs.

A US intelligence report blamed Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who they claim ordered the murder of the Saudi government critic but avoided pointing the finger at the the regime as a whole of involvement.

UN officials expressed frustration at the continued refusal to co-operate with investigators accusing Saudi authorities of “a series of obfuscations and denials.”

Human Rights Watch spokesman John Fischer said: “We call upon Saudi Arabia as a member of UN Human Rights Council to co-operate with the council’s own mechanisms including the special rapporteur and ensuring they are willing to allow her access and to give her whatever information she needs in order to conduct that independent inquiry.”

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