An independent UN rights expert on Wednesday said that there is “credible evidence” linking Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.

The expert has further asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch an international probe into the killing of the Saudi scribe.

A report by UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard said the evidence merits further investigation by an independent and impartial international inquiry, the BBC reported.

Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The murder caused international outrage and provoked condemnation of the 33-year-old Crown Prince, also known as “MBS”. Saudi authorities, however, insist they were not acting on the Crown Prince’s orders.

Earlier, Salman had said that the death of Jamal Khashoggi is a “very painful crime”.

The CIA has reportedly said the murder was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler and heir to the Arab world’s most powerful throne.

Saudi authorities have strongly denied the allegation.

Saudi prosecutors have absolved the prince and said around two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

Khashoggi, a US resident, had written critically of Prince Mohammed and was killed in what Riyadh described as a rogue operation.

Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s fiancee has asked the US to lead an international investigation into the murder of the Washington Post columnist.

According to a Turkish newspaper, the killers of Khashoggi had poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage. His body has never been found.

After repeated denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted the 59-year-old had been murdered at the mission in a “rogue” operation.

(With agency inputs)