The family of deceased journalist Jamal Khashoggi has filed a US lawsuit accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of personally ordering his brutal execution in order to silence the government critic, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The prince has previously denied ordering Khashoggi’s killing.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington DC on behalf of Khashoggi’s fiancé Hatice Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN, the human rights organisation Khashoggi founded shortly before his death.
It names Prince Mohammed and other Saudi Ministry of Interior officials, accusing them of a “brutal and brazen crime” that was the result of “weeks of planning” and premeditation, AP reported.
The officials “saw Khashoggi’s actions in the United States as an existential threat to their pecuniary and other interests and, accordingly, conspired to commit the heinous acts that are the subject of this suit,” it said, according to The Washington Post.
The lawsuit alleged that Khashoggi was murdered “pursuant to a directive of defendant Mohammed bin Salman”. “The objective of the murder was clear - to halt Mr Khashoggi’s advocacy in the United States... for democratic reform in the Arab world,” it said, according to BBC.
In a video conference, lawyers for Cengiz and Dawn said the focus of the lawsuit was to have a US court hold the crown prince liable for the killing and to obtain documents that reveal the truth.
Cengiz, who also spoke during the video conference, said the Saudi prince murdered Khasshogi because he advocated for democracy in the West Pacific and human rights for all, “and especially because he advocated them in the United States”.
“Certainly, no one behind this most gruesome murder should have any role in becoming monarch,” she said, according to The Washington Post. “I ask the United States government – a nation that has stood for justice, accountability and human rights – I ask that you stand with me and all those who loved Jamal and say, ‘We will support your efforts to fully uncover the truth and ensure that those responsible are found liable in a court of law.’ ”
Khashoggi, who had written columns for The Washington Post critical of Saudi Arabia, was brutally killed in October 2018, allegedly at the behest of Prince Mohammad. Khashoggi’s body was said to have been dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and disposed of elsewhere, but his remains were never found.
United States intelligence agencies had found credible evidence that Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing. However, no senior official was convicted of the murder, leading global observers to call the trial a sham.
Khashoggi’s murder had caused an international uproar and led to immense criticism against the prince. The United Nations had condemned the trials and Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, called the verdict a travesty. Callamard had published a 100-page report on the journalist’s murder, saying it was a “deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law”.
On September 7, a Saudi Arabian court handed out sentences to eight accused in the murder case. Three people were acquitted. The Riyadh Criminal Court handed out 20-year prison sentences to the five convicts. It sentenced another to 10 years imprisonment and two to seven years each.