Group pushes Germany to charge Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi murder

By Rachel More, dpa

The German branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is pushing for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be charged with a crime against humanity for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi under Germany’s universal jurisdiction law.

The de facto Saudi leader is the main culprit in organizing the journalist’s killing, the press freedom activists said on Tuesday.

They have filed a criminal complaint with Germany’s attorney general against Mohammed, his close advisor Saud Al-Qahtani and three other high-ranking Saudi officials.

Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a special commando from Riyadh. There is still no trace of his body.

Khashoggi lived in the United States and wrote columns for the Washington Post that often included criticism of the Saudi monarchy.

On Friday, a declassified US intelligence report stated that Mohammed had authorized the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia rejects the report as false.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that its complaint “reveals the widespread and systematic nature of the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia.”

Alongside the assassination of Khashoggi, the more than 500-page document focuses on the “arbitrary detention” of 34 journalists, all but one of whom remain behind bars. This includes prominent blogger Raif Badawi.

“We call on the German prosecutor to take a stand and open an investigation into the crimes we have revealed,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said in the statement.

“No one should be above international law, especially when crimes against humanity are at stake. The urgent need for justice is long overdue,” he said.

The group’s Germany director, Christian Mihr, said, “We ask the public prosecutor general to open a situation analysis, with a view to formally launching a prosecutorial investigation and issuing arrest warrants.”

The principle of universal jurisdiction was enshrined in German law in 2002.

It 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.

The procedure has already been used by campaigners fighting for accountability in Syria, leading to the world’s first trial of former intelligence officers for alleged state torture during that country’s civil war, taking place in the German city of Koblenz.

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