The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and four other high-ranking officials of the Saudi government have been sued in Germany for “crimes against humanity” in connection with the gruesome killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Reports by a number of international news agencies say media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), filed the criminal case in Germany on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
News about the suit came four days after the United States Government released a declassified intelligence report which showed that the crown prince, popularly known as MBS, approved the killing of the Khashoggi at the Saudi Embassy in Turkey.
The plaintiff, RSF, is seeking an inquiry by prosecutors under Germany’s international jurisdiction laws.
Furthermore, RSF, in the suit accused Saudi Arabia of persecuting Khashoggi as well as dozens of other journalists.
“We call on the German prosecutor to take a stand,” Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of RSF, is reported by the news agencies to have said.
“No one should be above international law, especially when crimes of humanity are at stake,” he added.
Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who was highly critical of Saudi policies under the crown prince.
He was allegedly killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The gruesome killing was reportedly led by a Saudi hit squad and it drew global condemnation and adversely affected the Crown Prince’s global standing.
However, Saudi officials denounced the US Government report, saying Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” that did not involve the crown prince – the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
But RSF insists it had gathered evidence of a “state policy to attack and silence journalists”. RSF says it had submitted the evidence to the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Monday, March 1, 2021.
In its evidence submitted the court, RSF is reported to have presented details of cases of 34 other journalists who have been jailed in Saudi Arabia, including the blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned in his home country since 2012 on charges of “insulting Islam”.
Why file case related to Saudi Arabia in Germany?
In 2012, the principle of universal jurisdiction was duly enshrined in German law.
The principle allows for grave crimes like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to be tried in national courts if international courts are not an option.
Campaigners fighting for accountability in Syria have previously used the principle, with the trial of two former intelligence officers for alleged state torture during Syria’s civil war.
By Melvin Tarlue