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Media watchdog seeks German investigation of Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi death…

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a graduation ceremony for the 95th batch of cadets from the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 23, 2018. Picture taken December 23, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Reuters . Tue, March 2, 2021, 1:48 PM
By John Irish and Raya Jalabi
PARIS (Reuters) – Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and several top officials of committing crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint filed in Germany.

The 500-page complaint, filed on Monday with the German Public Prosecutor General in the Karlsruhe federal court, includes allegations of arbitrary detention of more than 30 journalists and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s killing. Other Saudi figures named in the RSF filing could not be reached for comment and the Saudi government’s media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

RSF said it filed the lawsuit in Germany because of its principle of universal jurisdiction, allowing its courts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed anywhere, and that other names could be added to the complaint at a later stage.

The German prosecutor’s office said it had received the complaint and was assessing the legal and factual merits of it.

Germany’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The other officials named in the RSF complaint were Saud al-Qahtani, who was seen as the crown prince’s right-hand man; Ahmed Mohammed al-Asiri, a former royal court adviser; Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a general; and Mohammad al-Otaibi, the Saudi Istanbul Consul General at the time of Khashoggi’s murder.

The filing follows the publishing of a declassified intelligence assessment by the United States last Friday which concluded that Prince Mohammed approved the operation to “kill or capture” Khashoggi.

Washington also announced visa bans on some Saudis it believes were involved in the killing and imposed sanctions on others.

Saudi Arabia said it completely rejected “the negative, false and unacceptable” intelligence assessment.

(Reporting by John Irish in Paris and Raya Jalabi in Dubai; additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai and Riham Alkousaa in Berlin, Writing by Raya Jalabi, Editing by Timothy Heritage, William Maclean)

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