Reporters Without Borders announced on Tuesday the filing of a complaint in Germany for crimes against humanity targeting in particular the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, the NGO denouncing its “responsibility” in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the imprisonment of about thirty of his colleagues.
RSF lodged a complaint with the German prosecutor against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for crimes against humanity, revealing the widespread and systematic nature of the persecution of journalists and the assassination of #JamalKhashoggi.https://t.co/ooESEemxs4
– RSF (@RSF_inter) March 2, 2021
Filed Monday “with the Attorney General of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe” because of his jurisdiction “over the main international crimes”, the complaint “relates to the widespread and systematic persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia” and targets, in addition to the crown prince, four other senior Saudi officials, RSF said in a statement.
Alongside the de facto ruler of the kingdom, “suspected of having directly ordered the assassination” of Jamal Khashoggi, RSF thus attacks his ex “close adviser” Saoud al-Qahtani, the “former deputy director of intelligence” Ahmed al- Assiri, but also Mohammed al-Otaibi, former consul general in Istanbul, and Maher Mutreb, “intelligence officer” at the head of “the team that tortured and killed” the chronicler of the Washington post.
Universal jurisdiction of German courts
Consulted by AFP, the unprecedented complaint, also filed against X, also details the atrocities committed against 34 journalists imprisoned in the kingdom, 33 of whom are still in detention, like the blogger Raif Badawi.
“Torture”, “violence” and “sexual coercion”, “enforced disappearance”, “illegal deprivation of physical liberty” … Faced with what it describes as “crimes against humanity”, the NGO considers that the judicial system German proves “the most suitable” by virtue of the universal jurisdiction applied across the Rhine, which allows a state to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes, regardless of their nationality and where they were committed.
This action, by which RSF hopes to open an investigation, which would be a “world first”, comes a few days after the publication of an American intelligence report estimating that “MBS” “validated” the operation aimed at “Capture or kill” Jamal Khashoggi.
Opaque trials and death sentences in Saudi Arabia
Critic of Saudi power after being close to it, Jamal Khashoggi, resident in the United States, was assassinated on October 2, 2018 in his country’s consulate in Istanbul by a commando of agents from Saudi Arabia. His dismembered body has never been found.
After denying the assassination, Riyadh ended up saying that it had been committed by Saudi agents who acted alone. After an opaque trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three others to prison terms. The death sentences have since been commuted.
Saudi Arabia ranks 170th out of 180 countries on the RSF World Press Freedom Index.