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USA: Khashoggi case: Saudi crown prince enjoys immunity

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The brutal assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi shocked the world in 2018. US intelligence services concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a hand in it. He denies that – and is now protected from a lawsuit in the United States.

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For the time being, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not have to fear prosecution in the United States for possible involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The US government concluded that bin Salman could not be prosecuted in the US in connection with the crime as long as he was the prime minister of his country. As head of government of Saudi Arabia, he has immunity from US prosecution, according to a court document from the Ministry of Justice.

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The background is a legal dispute that Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz had brought in the United States. She was outraged by the decision.

After the murder of Saudi government critic and journalist Khashoggi four years ago, his fiancée filed a lawsuit in the United States against the Saudi crown prince and others whom she alleges were involved in the reporter’s killing. Among other things, Khashoggi worked as a columnist for the renowned US newspaper “Washington Post”.

Crown Prince was appointed Prime Minister

In the legal dispute, Mohammed bin Salman’s lawyers finally argued at the beginning of October that the appointment as prime minister at the end of September would guarantee the crown prince immunity. The court should therefore dismiss the claim.

A court in the capital Washington asked the US Department of Justice for an assessment of Mohammed bin Salman’s immunity status. The ministry has now stressed that the US government has expressed serious concern to the Saudi leadership about the “horrific assassination” of Khashoggi and has also imposed sanctions. However, the doctrine of the immunity of the head of state is firmly anchored in law, regardless of the subject of a particular legal dispute.

Cengiz makes allegations against Biden

Khashoggi’s fiancée Cengiz accused US President Joe Biden on Twitter of having saved the “murderer” and “criminal” by granting him immunity and thus implicated himself in the crime.

When asked if Biden approved the decision, National Security Council communications director John Kirby said the president was aware of the legal process and legal determination. It is a determination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which then presented the Ministry of Justice at the request of the court. “This legal statement has absolutely nothing to do with the matter itself,” he stressed.

Kirby said Biden was very clear on the “brutal, barbaric murder” of Khashoggi and committed to holding the regime accountable. The legal determination also has nothing to do with bilateral relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which are currently known to be strained. President Biden continues to believe that the relationship with the country should be reconsidered. The exam is running.

US sanctions had spared Mohammed bin Salman

US intelligence has accused Mohammed bin Salman of being responsible for the 2018 murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by an assassin squad. The crown prince denies being the mastermind. The murder temporarily isolated the heir to the throne internationally and plunged many Western countries’ relations with Saudi Arabia into a crisis, including relations with the United States. However, sanctions that Biden’s government imposed on Saudi Arabia spared Mohammed bin Salman.

After a rapprochement in the meantime, Riyadh recently drew renewed anger from Washington when the country agreed to cut oil production. The US government sharply criticized this and saw it as support for the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Saudi Arabia and Russia are considered the leading forces in the Opec+ oil alliance, which decided to cut oil production. The USA, on the other hand, had been asking Opec+ to turn on the oil tap for months – also in the interests of the global economy.

Source: Stern

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