A criminal case against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other members of the Saudi hierarchy has been filed in a German court for the brutal murder, dismemberment and disappearance of 2018. Washington post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the kingdom’s denial of direct MBS involvement and the Biden administration’s flabby response to the murder.
“The 500-page complaint filed by the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the first time that a criminal case has been filed outside of what was widely considered a show trial in Saudi Arabia. This trial saw the conviction of eight people who were later pardoned after members of the Khashoggi family allegedly forgave them.
On Monday, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations challenged a four-page CIA report released last week that highlighted MBS’s involvement, tweeting: “Let’s all move forward to tackle serious global issues !! “
Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi called the US report, which has been widely criticized as weak, as being “based on could have, should have and would have been and does not come close to prosecution evidence beyond of any reasonable doubt ”.
The report, which was withheld by the Trump administration and released last week by Biden, does not directly accuse MBS of ordering the coup on Khashoggi but says he had “absolute control” over all activities carried out. by the kingdom’s intelligence services. Al-Mouallimi argued in a tirade on Twitter that “the prince courageously accepted moral responsibility, brought the accused to justice and pledged to reform the intelligence services. Case closed!”
Khashoggi was ambushed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-person team that includes a surgeon armed with a bone saw and seven members of MBS’s elite personal security team in October 2018. The body journalist has never been found.
The complaint in Germany was lodged with prosecutors in the city of Karlsruhe on Monday, according to an RSF statement. The file describes the arbitrary detention of 34 journalists and the brutal murder of Khashoggi to highlight what he calls the “widespread and systematic” persecution of the press by the kingdom.
“These journalists are victims of unlawful killings, torture, sexual violence, coercion and enforced disappearance,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF, during a press conference on Tuesday morning. “Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes.”
RSF statement cites MBS and four other suspects: Saud Al-Qahtani, close advisor to the crown prince who they say was directly involved in the planning and execution of the murder as well as the implementation of the policy persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia; Ahmad Mohammed Asiri, the former deputy chief of intelligence, suspected of having personally supervised the murder of Khashoggi; Mohammad Al-Otaibi, the consul general in Istanbul at the time of the murder; and Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, an intelligence officer who led the team that “tortured, killed and forcibly removed Jamal Khashoggi”.
The complaint was filed in Germany because the laws can extend “universal jurisdiction” to certain serious international crimes, even when the victims are not German. The case is reinforced by the recent conviction by a German court of a Syrian secret service officer for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity for the torture of protesters in one of Bashar al-Assad’s prisons, according to The Guardian.
“The official opening of a criminal investigation in Germany into crimes against humanity committed in Saudi Arabia would be a world first,” said Christian Mihr, director of RSF in Germany. “We ask the public prosecutor to open an analysis of the situation, with a view to formally launching a prosecution investigation and issuing arrest warrants.”
RSF ranks Saudi Arabia 170th out of 180 countries in its press freedom index. “Saudi Arabia does not allow any independent media,” RSF argues. “Despite his reform speeches, Mohammed ben Salman (MBS) has intensified the repression since his appointment as crown prince in June 2017. The number of journalists and citizen-journalists in detention has tripled since the start of 2017.”
The German court has not yet accepted the request and no hearing date has been set.
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