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Turkish Authorities Search Saudi Consul General's Home; Cohen Meets With Prosecutors Investigating Trump; CNN Gets Rare Access To No Man's Land For Rohingya; Grim Details Emerge in Khashoggi's Apparent Killing; Khashoggi Case Weighing Heavily on Saudi Business; E.U. Leaders Drop Plans for Special Brexit Summit. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired October 18, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New, damning information implicating the Saudis in Jamal Khashoggi's apparent murder as pressure mounts for the kingdom to provide some answers.
Brexit talks stall. Theresa May's big Brussels speech failing to bring a deal with the E.U. any closer.
Plus no man's land: CNN takes you to a small stretch of land between Myanmar and Bangladesh where thousands of Rohingya Muslims live in fear behind barbed wire.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us more around the world. I'm Nick Watt and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
WATT: Grim new details are emerging in the disappearance and apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi. According to Turkish media, an audio recording suggests the journalist was tortured and killed within minutes of entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
A source says that Khashoggi may have been injected with a tranquilizer. Turkish officials have said his body was dismembered. Sources also say a Saudi intelligence officer, seen here on the left, led the operation and that he has close ties to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkish officials released the scan of a passport that appears to belong to the head of a forensic medicine unit at the Saudi interior ministry. His presence would make it hard to claim that the interrogation was botched and not a pre-meditated mission.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will report to president Donald Trump Thursday morning on his recent meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince, as well as with Turkish officials.
Meanwhile Turkish investigators expanded their search to the Saudi consul general's home on Wednesday. Let's go to Turkey for the latest.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Outside the residence of the Saudi consul general here in Istanbul, where we've seen a dramatic day of developments. Earlier today, a caravan of police vehicles made their way to this location, which is now the second release of interest in this investigation.
Obviously we know about the consulate itself, where missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last reported. We've seen the reason this is important here is because CCTV footage from the consulate actually showed vehicles moving from that location here for the residence of the Saudi consul general.
Discussions were underway between Turkish and Saudi authorities who were wondering whether police officers would actually get access to this facility in order to conduct a forensic examination or look for evidence of a possible crime.
That transpired today. We saw these police vehicles moving in. We saw officers in moon suits, the forensic examination uniforms that allow them to go in and collect DNA. This will all be part of this lengthy investigation.
Now on the political side, earlier today, Secretary Mike Pompeo was here in Turkey. He met with President Erdogan as well as the Turkish foreign minister. He did not speak with reporters. However, we have learned with the readout afterwards from Turkish officials that secretary of state was here to provide a message from President Trump as well as information from Saudi authorities.
Now that was relayed. Obviously the overarching issue here that the international community continues to look at is whether this investigation will indeed be comprehensive enough, whether Saudis provided transparent representation of exactly what transpired here.
Those discussions are underway. Obviously we've heard from President Trump, signaling that at first the Saudis were not involved and then perhaps this was the work of a rogue faction as was not acting at the behest of the government. That's all yet to be seen.
But again, as Turkish officials and Saudi officials continue to work on this investigation, we will continue to gather additional details -- I'm Josh Campbell in Istanbul.
WATT: As we're learning all of this, President Trump continues to defend Saudi Arabia. Trump says he supports an investigation but he is being a little coy about it. CNN's Pamela Brown reports now from Washington.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump today not giving details about the investigation surrounding the disappearance of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi, playing coy with reporters in the Oval Office when pressed if he's asked for the FBI's involvement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not send the FBI in to figure all this out?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he wasn't a citizen of this country, for one thing. And we're going to determine that. And you don't know whether or not we have, do you? No, but do you know whether or not we have sent the FBI?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you sent the FBI?
TRUMP: I'm not going to tell you.
TRUMP: Why would I tell you?
BROWN: Trump indicating the U.S. asked the Turkish authorities to hand over audio recordings they claim proves Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered while inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
TRUMP: We have asked for it, if it exists. We have asked for it, yes. We have asked for it, if it exists.
BROWN: The president once again casting doubt on the mounting evidence that Saudi Arabia --
BROWN: -- was behind Khashoggi's disappearance and failing to point the finger at the kingdom, telling the Associated Press, "Here we go again with you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that," comparing the investigation to the allegations now Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced earlier this month.
TRUMP: We will get down to the bottom of it.
BROWN: The president also telling FOX Business, the U.S. needs Saudi Arabia, both for the fight against terror and as a financial partner.
TRUMP: I hope we're going to be on the better side of the equation. We need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we're not going to walk away from Saudi Arabia.
TRUMP: I do not want to do that.
BROWN: Trump later insisting he's not providing cover for the Middle East ally, but rather he is waiting on a report from secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who is returning from the Middle East after meetings with the Saudis and the Turks. TRUMP: I'm not giving cover at all. But I want to find out what happened, where is the fault and we will probably know that by the end of the week.
BROWN: President Trump says he believes he will know by the end of the week what happened and who is to blame. His secretary of state Mike Pompeo is expected to be briefing him soon following his trip overseas to meet with the crown prince as well as Turkish officials.
Mike Pompeo telling reporters that he believes the Saudis will conduct a transparent investigation. He says that is what they have pledges. So it remains to be seen how much stock the administration will put this into this investigation, as the Saudis face mounting evidence that they were involved in the disappearance and apparent killing of "The Washington Post" journalist -- Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
WATT: CNN intelligence and security analyst as well as former CIA operative, Bob Baer, joins me now from Washington.
Bob, we just heard the president say, "I'm not giving cover at all."
Do you believe him?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No. It's exactly what he's doing. He cannot afford to lose Mohammed bin Salman. He can't afford to break with Saudi Arabia. He's desperately looking for a way out of this and as more information comes out and more details, forensics, the harder it's going to be.
But right now the United States cannot afford to come after Saudi Arabia both in terms of Iran, oil and everything else. It's the old story -- Nick.
WATT: And we also heard the president say that the U.S. has asked Turkish authorities for this alleged audio recording from inside the consulate, the president said if it exists. It seems strange that the U.S. wouldn't already have that recording.
BAER: I think there's people who've listened to it but I think he would like the actual recording. And there's supposedly video taken from the scene, too and that as well.
But I would say right now, the United States is desperate for Erdogan not to release that -- the audio simply because it's so awful.
Look everything the Turks have leaked, right from the beginning of this has turned out to be true. They have provided abundance of evidence that a Saudi team was sent in, 15 people, two jets, people close to Mohammed bin Salman and the more we see this, the more it's a smoking gun pointing right at Mohammed bin Salman.
WATT: And I also wanted to play a little bit of video. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, who just landed back in Washington after a trip to Riyadh and to Turkey. Now there's been a lot of talks about him smiling in that meeting with Mohammed bin Salman.
We just heard from a source who says, "The smiling photo-op should not be read as to indicate the meeting was friendly."
The source said the smiles ended at the end of the photo-op and Pompeo stressed to Mohammed bin Salman that his future as king is at stake.
Do you believe that source or do you think those smiles were genuine?
BAER: I think they're genuine. I mean this administration has been currying favor with Mohammed bin Salman since it entered the White House. It's never changed. They cannot afford to lose him.
The Saudis just transferred $100 million. I mean the Saudis have transferred $100 million and I think you're going to see a lot of money exchanging hand and you're going to try to cover up the details of this.
I mean the very fact that the FBI, even symbolically, wasn't sent to Istanbul tells me that we're not all that interested in the details and the United States has not called for an international investigative body to look into this which is the obvious next step.
But asking the Saudis whether they did this or not and then mimicking what they said coming back is just -- and this guy was a "Washington Post" columnist. I mean he was a permanent resident alien. He was well-regarded in this capital and around the world.
And for Saudi Arabia in a premeditated murder, you know --
BAER: -- they've crossed a red line but we simply don't know what to do about it.
We depend upon Saudi Arabia as much as they depend upon us. It's a very ugly marriage. And I don't see it getting broken up.
WATT: I just want to also play we heard from Mike Pompeo on the tarmac in Riyadh before he left. I want to play a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't want to talk about any of the facts. They didn't want to either. They made a commitment, too to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that whether they are a senior officer or official. They promised accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The Saudis made a promise that they would hold anyone accountable.
Really? What do you think?
BAER: It's nonsense. I mean where -- you know, at this point they should be offering up exculpatory, you know, facts.
You know, why was -- why were those two planes there?
Why would people around Mohammed bin Salman, his security detail -- why did they go to Istanbul?
You know, there's been some leaks about well, they are on vacation, of course, which is utter nonsense.
The Saudis and this murder of Khashoggi are more inept than the GRU were in Salisbury. I mean they were caught red-handed. And you know, all evidence points to the fact that it was premeditated.
And whether they filmed this or not, to give to Mohammed bin Salman, is the big question. And again, I go back to the audio and they're desperately trying to get the Turks at this point not to release it. It's going to look really bad.
WATT: I mean, Bob -- as you just said, you know, they're kind of if this was supposed to be plausible deniability it's not very plausible.
Fifteen people coming in to Turkey, "The New York Times" reporting that nine of those were some division of the Saudi government, you know. We've been told by three sources this group was led by an intelligence officer with close ties to crown prince.
I mean how did the Saudis think this is going to play out that they would just do this and no one would mind?
BAER: It's the arrogance. It's pure arrogance. When they arrested and detained the Lebanese prime minister, they didn't care. I mean he had full diplomatic immunity when he went to Riyadh and they just -- they held him for almost two weeks. Took his phones, put him under house arrest and it was a shakedown.
I mean they didn't care about that. So they're not going to care about it. And they think they have the protection of this administration for whatever reason. It really makes you wonder why they think that.
I mean they've gotten everything they wanted from this White House. Tearing up the Iran agreement, commitments to Saudi Arabia, you know, you go on and on and on and they think that this administration is in Saudi Arabia's pocket.
And the fact that we haven't been stronger on this, the fact that Pompeo's in Riyadh smiling and joking is not a good sign.
WATT: Finally, Bob -- you know, some of the details, we're guessing here, that this was, you know, torture. Then the body was apparently dismembered. I mean why the need for such brutality? BAER: Vengeance. Vengeance. They're looking Khashoggi as an
existential threat to the Kingdom. They have to shut down all critics. The fact that in the past he's had relations with the Muslim Brotherhood -- I mean there's no indication that he in any way had betrayed Saudi Arabia politically other than criticizing the crown prince.
But you know, those contacts and his visits to Qatar and the rest of it and the crown prince is paranoid. And, you know, a violent person and impetuous.
WATT: Bob Baer, joining us from Washington, thank you very much for your time.
BAER: Thank you.
WATT: "The Washington Post" has just published what looks to be Jamal Khashoggi's final column. It was written shortly before Khashoggi went missing and focused on the lack of press freedom in the Middle East and the importance of free expression.
Khashoggi writes, "The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices.
"We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalists, governments, spreading hate through propaganda. Ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face."
Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance and possible murder is already chilling the business climate in Saudi Arabia. U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin says he will decide today whether to attend a major investment conference in Riyadh later this month.
Numerous high profile international bankers and investors have already pulled out, potentially spelling trouble for the kingdom's plans for the future. CNN's John --
WATT: -- Defterios explains.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice-over): The 33- year-old son of the king seized power last year to become crown prince. He's offered Western companies a volatile mix ever since. A high-profile 2030 economic reform plan with cutting edge mega cities coupled with heavy-handed moves to consolidate his grip on power. And now the apparent death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a frequent critic of his leadership. GARY GRAPPO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: The game changer has been on the Saudi side, that they act in this way against a perceived opponent. And I think U.S. businesses and, indeed, all international businesses are going to have to take that into their calculation.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): So why has Western business remained so engaged in the kingdom?
Primarily because Saudi Arabia remains the number one oil exporter in the world, which has fueled an infrastructure boom well before the current crown prince came on the scene.
RICHARD THOMPSON, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, MEED: So, you have that combination of oil income and the leadership committing to delivering key projects and investments. The other markets around the world don't have that. And that's why potentially Saudi Arabia is one of the most attractive markets anywhere.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Research compiled by me captures the scale. $1.4 trillion of major projects. A third of which are already under construction and a population a 10th of the size of the United States. Last year I toured Haramain train station, part of a $14 billion rail network that will link the port city of Jeddah to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is only the start. We will go more and more bigger and better.
DEFTERIOS: The oil price collapse between 2014 and 2016 slowed down master plans at Haramain and scores of other projects. But new state- of-the-art buildings, metros and economic sites can be found everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His royal highness, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
DEFTERIOS: The young crown prince marched in and added a layer of complexity with his 2030 plan which is dependent on Western know-how and political predictability, which seems to be lacking now.
GRAPPO: U.S. businesses are going to think long and hard about how they're going to continue their relationships with Saudi Arabia when this particular government takes actions of this nature.
DEFTERIOS: There is a bounty in the kingdom for international business. A great risk now as well -- John Defterios, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
WATT: European leaders have dropped plans for a special summit next month to seal the deal to pull the U.K. out of the E.U. That is according to two European Union sources.
The reason: not enough progress has been made during Brexit negotiations. British Prime Minister Theresa May's big speech in Brussels on Wednesday apparently did little to bring an agreement any closer. The president of the European Parliament politely said he wasn't impressed with what Ms. May had to say.
ANTONIO TAJANI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (through translator): There is a message of goodwill, there is a readiness to reach an agreement. But I did not perceive anything substantially new in terms of contents as I listened to Ms. May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The key issue holding everything up is the so-called backstop agreement to ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit. Ms. May and the head of the European Commission are both set to hold separate news conferences Thursday morning.
In the meantime, CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins me now.
So, Dominic, Theresa May's big speech landed with a squelch, not a fizz.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. And of course, this is not the first time that this has happened. The irony of this, of course, that the latest solution to leaving the European Union is to ask to stay in it just a little bit longer.
In fact, not just a bit longer but almost three years from this particular moment down the road is the latest suggestion so that they can iron out some of these particular issues. This is, of course, going to be unacceptable to the Labour Party and it does not want to wait around in the wings of power of three more years watching the Conservative Party shepherd the U.K. out of the European Union
And certainly, when it comes to Theresa May's hardcore right faction of Brexiteers. And they want complete severance from the European Union not staying in there longer, having no say over it and having to pay into it. And if there's anything they were waiting for and hoping for, is that Theresa May would be in the hot seat come March.
That there would be at some point out of the European Union. And they could begin the process of --
THOMAS: -- trying to identify a new leader for the Conservative Party as they headed into post-Brexit general elections at the latest a few years down the road in 2022. So, this is unlikely to satisfy anybody really.
WATT: And as we mentioned, is the Irish border that is the real sticking point? As far as I can tell, Theresa May's only possible solution to that is just to kick the can down the road. We know what's really putting forward a viable solution of this.
THOMAS: No, no. Absolutely and having -- you know, talked about all of a sort of different variations from the soft Brexit, hard Brexit, blind Brexit and so on, one just has to wonder what is possibly going to come up.
We had the backstop to the backstop just a couple of days ago, now along the moment. In fact, what's so ironic about all of this, one should not forget the fact that Northern Ireland along with Scotland voted at the Brexit vote in 2016 to remain in the European Union. It was England and Wales that voted to leave.
And one cannot help but think that as time goes on and as people become increasingly disillusioned with this negotiation process and increasingly aware of the implications for Northern Ireland. That even though this is not something that the DUP wants. That the Northern Irish may come around to the idea that the best solution for them is to actually unify with the Republic of Ireland and become one country outside of the United Kingdom.
And we're seeing some evidence and some polling that, that could be the way forward. Now, of course, if that happens, let's not forget that Scotland would very much like to go down this -- to go down that path. The longer these negotiations go on, the greater likelihood is that they will fail and that we will end up with these kinds of scenarios.
WATT: I mean, you're talking there about the possible disintegration over the United Kingdom. I mean, is it now time for us to seriously start talking about this second referendum -- this people's vote?
I mean, you know, it has been suggested, it has a few -- you know, famous people in Britain supporting Armando Iannucci, Gary Lineker, Dominic West. You know, people -- there is a groundswell.
THOMAS: There is. But it's also, it's so unpredictable. And, of course, the argument being made that a vote happened in the first place. We know that it was unfair, we know that the promises made were unrealistic.
I think that people now over the past couple of years have the real education and a better idea as to what it would mean to leave the European Union. And you could argue that the vote would be a little bit more informed.
But let's just say that the vote was to leave the European Union again. Is this really going to solve the long-term discussions as to what kind of Brexit is going to be in place? And as we keep saying, it seems that remaining in the European Union is going to be the best solution for everybody and we see on the part of E.U. leaders a flexibility there, because they understand that an unfortunate -- you know departure of the United Kingdom doesn't bode well.
A lot of people are going to get hurt by this. But the long-term discussions and dragging this on for two to three more years down the road sends an awful message to other members of the European Union. And is also distracting from the business that the E.U. has at hand. Which is to tackle some major 21st century challenges and this Brexit thing continues to haunt the discussions. Let alone further divide the United Kingdom.
And so, it's hard to see that our vote as welcomed as it may be where it to come and provide for a remaining in the European Union, is going to solve the complex question of this divided United Kingdom over these sorts of questions.
WATT: Fascinating and fraught politics. Dominic, joining us from Los Angeles. Thanks very much for your time.
THOMAS: Thanks, Nick.
WATT: The U.S. midterm elections are less than three weeks away and CNN has you covered. Ahead of Election Day we have got correspondents covering all the major races across the country.
We also have special coverage of some of the most contested. The first event, a town hall with the Democrats' Senate candidate from Texas, Beto O'Rourke, and his opponent, Republican Ted Cruz declined to participate.
Dana Bash moderates the discussion that gets underway at 7:00 pm in New York, 7:00 am in Hong Kong.
WATT (voice-over): And still too tough. Dozens killed and wounded during an attack at a college in Crimea. Authorities say the government (INAUDIBLE).
WATT: Russian authorities are investigating an attack at a college in Crimea. At least 18 people were killed, dozens wounded and the suspect, we're told, was a student. Our Matthew Chance has the details.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the chaotic aftermath of the shocking attack that has left dozens dead or injured at a Crimean technical college. Russian emergency workers scene in Kerch said the majority of victims are just teenagers. Initial reports spoke of an explosion on their college campus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): According to preliminary information, an unidentified explosive device packed with metal objects went off in the cafeteria of Kerch Polytechnic College. We are checking information about the victims.
CHANCE: The exact moment of the explosion was captured of a car dash cam nearby. The investigators now say all of those killed died of gunshot wounds, inflicted by a lone attacker.
And this is the suspect caught on college security cameras and identified on Russian state television as 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov.
Investigators say he was carrying a second explosive device and large amounts of ammunition. He turned his weapon on himself, they say, after opening fire inside the campus.
The coastal town of Kerch is on a Crimean side of a controversial bridge built by Russia after it annexed the territory from Ukraine in 2014. It was opened by Vladimir Putin himself early this year.
Russian lawmakers initially suggested Ukraine may have been behind what was first suspected to be a terrorist attack. It's now labeled a mass murder and the Kremlin is focusing on support for the victims and their families.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I want to express condolences to the relatives of those who died and expressed hope that the victims will recover as soon as possible. We will do everything possible for this.
CHANCE: Meanwhile, Russia has declared three days of official mourning, as it grapples with an appalling rampage -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
WATT: Still to come on CNN, rare access inside a Rohingya refugee camp where thousands are trapped in no man's land, forced out of Myanmar but not allowed to cross into Bangladesh.
[00:30:00] WATT: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt, with our headlines this hour. Turkish authorities searched the Saudi Consul General's home in Istanbul Wednesday in a Jamal Khashoggi investigation.
According to Turkish media, an audio recording suggest the journalist was tortured at the Saudi Consulate and was killed within minutes of his arrival.
Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, met with law enforcement officials, investigating the U.S. President's family business and charity. It follows meetings he's already with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. They're investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, during the 2016 election, and any possible obstruction of justice.
An E.U. source tells CNN that European leaders have dropped plans for a special Brexit summit in November. They say there just hasn't been enough progress during the current talks. British Prime Minister Theresa May's big Brexit pitch was met with a cool reception, Wednesday night, in Brussels. She's scheduled to address the media on Thursday.
Now, to the Rohingya crisis, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims forced to flee into Bangladesh just the past year. They were escaping a military operation in Myanmar that the U.N. calls ethnic cleansing.
CNN's Matt Rivers got rare access to the area and he found recent history erased, just a few clues left of the horror that forced those hundreds of thousands to flee. Matt joins us now from Beijing with more on his special report.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, basically, what the Myanmar government did here was say, they're trying to change that narrative, basically. The entire international community basically agrees that horrific things happened to the Rohingyans, so the thought was, we'll bring in foreign journalists and we'll try and tell them that nothing happened.
So, we accepted their offer, we went in, we listened to what they had to -- what they had to say, judged it on its merits, we made a conclusion. Here's our story.
These people are Rohingya Muslims, some of those who fled from what the U.N. calls, a genocide. Myanmar's government wants you to believe it never happened.
DIL MOHAMMED, REFUGEE IN NO MAN'S LAND: Our main importance is to save life, life. We are afraid of our lives.
RIVERS: To meet this people, it took several days in a rickety boat ride to get to this part of Rakhine State, in remote Western Myanmar.
So, foreigners aren't allowed in this part of Rakhine. The only way we're here is on a government escort.
We're only taken where authorities want us to go. Our first stop, the village of Indian, there used to be more than 6,000 Rohingyans living here.
It's Rohingya? Their existence, now, all but erased. That way, OK. Thank you.
So, this is what's left of the Rohingya village that was here. It's completely overgrown. It's hard to tell that there were any structures here at any point.
[00:35:13] The only clues we have to the violence that took place here are trees like this one, still a year later, bearing the scorch marks of the fires that burnt this village to the ground.
The government said their forces did respond to Rohingya terror attacks here in 2017, but that the Rohingya burnt down their own houses. Only local Rakhine Buddhist remained now. This man supports that story.
NAY PHYU, RAKHINE BUDDHIST VILLAGER (through translator): The Rohingya started threatening the army, he says. The Muslims announced that they would have a celebration by slaughtering and cooking the soldiers and Rakhine people.
RIVERS: Though, clear evidence shows it was the Rohingya who were the main victims of slaughter. Ten Rohingya men were hacked and shot to death by Myanmar soldiers, a massacre, the military has admitted to, and that two Reuters journalists were jailed for investigating. The U.N. says many more men, women, and children were savagely killed here, as well.
The trip then continues through a barren, empty landscape, make sense when you remember the U.N. says 720,000 Rohingya fled when violence broke out last year.
A full U.N. report documents how the military and local groups engaged in rape, torture, and the member of at least 10,000 people to get rid of the Rohingya, a group, many and broader Myanmar regard as subhuman, non-citizens.
So, do you continue to claim that genocide did not happen in Rakhine State?
YEE HTOO, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, MAUNGDAW DISTRICT (through translator): During the incident, there was some damage. Regarding the army, they did everything within the law. We cannot comment on whether it was right or wrong.
RIVERS: The question is very simple. Do you believe that genocide happened here or not?
HTOO: I'd say genocide didn't happen.
RIVERS: Myanmar's civilian leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, also denies genocide. Her government says it's ready to bring back Rohingya refugees like these, stuck in No Man's Land, forced out of Myanmar, and not allowed across the border into Bangladesh.
They're staying put in part, because security forces that would oversee their return, are some of the same people accused of carrying out the killing, in the first place.
The conditions inside that camp are obviously horrific. There's no access to education, no health care, no electricity. Food is scarce, and yet, still, they'd rather be on that side of the fence than this one because they're too afraid to come back.
Myanmar might continue to deny ethnic cleansing, but the evidence gathered by the U.N. and others, is overwhelming. A government- sponsored trip does nothing to change that fact.
And so, you know, clearly, the conclusion is that Myanmar appears to be sticking to this farce of a story, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us, in the media, in the international community, have to buy it.
Now, moving forward here, the question is, what happens to all of those Rohingya refugees, not only in No Man's Land, but also in Bangladesh, and the answer is, there is no clear path forward.
Not only are they afraid for their lives, but they also want citizenship in Myanmar, and they want to go back to their original land. And Myanmar's government has already said that those two things are not going to happen.
So, without security, without citizenship, and without property ownership, the Rohingya say they're not going to come back, but they can't stay in Bangladesh, wherever presumably so, where these all go from here, there's just no good answer.
WATT: Powerful reporting. Thanks very much, Matt. And still to come, archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old inscription that could rewrite Pompeii's history.
Plus, Steven Hawking's final posthumous book is out. Hear what the late great physicist concluded about some of life's big questions, including, is there a God?
[00:40:00] WATT: Newly discovered graffiti in Pompeii, Italy, is being called an extraordinary find that could rewrite that fable city's history. For years, historians told us that Mount Vesuvius erupted in August of the year '79 A.D., burying Pompeii along with her population.
But now, archaeologists have unearthed a charcoal inscription that supports rival theory that the eruption occurred a little later, in October, of that year. They found the inscription which includes a date on the wall of a house that was being renovated, at the time of the devastating eruption.
And there are some fundamental questions, we humans, ponder, is there a God? Is there life in other planets? It's time travel possible. Well, the late physicist, Steven Hawking, is now posthumously providing his own brief answers to the big questions in his final book.
Hawking writes, there is no God but the laws of nature can explain everything. He says that intelligent alien life is out there. And that time travel, at least into the past, is actually possible. He also predicts that we'll be able to travel anywhere in the solar system within 100 years. And Hawking offered some advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN HAWKING, PHYSICIST: So, remember to look up at the stars and
not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Hawking was 76 when he died in March. His family and colleagues finished his final book by consulting his notes.
And, the man, who plays Big Bird on Sesame Street, is retiring, after nearly 50 years, 84-year-old Caroll Spinney also plays Oscar the Grouch. He says he feels lucky that Muppet Craze or Jim Henson had him play the two best Muppets.
Spinney says playing Big Bird helped him find his purpose. He even met his wife while working on Sesame Street, back in 1972.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT". You're watching CNN.
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