U.S. court dismissed suit against Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi murder

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi,

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, a U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (a U.S-based journalist). The decision was made in response to the Biden administration’s assertion that the prince was legally unaffected in the case.

District of Columbia U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates accepted the U.S. government’s motion to protect Prince Mohammed from lawsuit, despite “credible allegations of him involvement in Khashoggi’s murder,” according to Bates.

Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi officials in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate in 2018. Khashoggi was a columnist at The Washington Post who had criticised the brutal ways of Prince Mohammed (Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler).

The U.S. The U.S. intelligence community determined that Khashoggi was killed by the Saudi crown prince. The killing caused a rift between Biden’s administration and Saudi Arabia. This was despite the fact that the U.S. tried unsuccessfully to resolve the rift with the kingdom, which had been unable to reverse oil production cuts on a global market devastated by the Ukraine war.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in order to get documents for his marriage. Hatice Cengiz was Khashoggi’s fiancee. She had unknowingly waited outside the consulate while he was killed. A rights group Khashoggi founded before his death brought the lawsuit. Two top aides to the prince were also named in the lawsuit as accomplices.

July 15, 2022 03.57

Last month, the Biden administration, which was invited by the judge but not required to give an opinion, declared that Prince Mohammed’s status as Saudi Arabia’s prime Minister gave him sovereign immunity from any U.S. lawsuit.

Salman, Saudi Arabia’s king had appointed Prince Mohammed, his son as the prime minister, weeks before. This was a temporary exemption to the kingdom’s governing codes, which make the king prime minister.

Khashoggi’s fiancée and his rights organization argued that the move was an attempt to protect the prince from the U.S. courts.

Bates expressed “uneasiness” with Prince Mohammed’s new title and wrote Tuesday’s order, “There is a strong argument for plaintiffs’ claims against bin Salman’s and the other defendants being meritorious.”

The judge stated that the government’s determination that Prince Mohammed was not immune meant that he had no choice but dismiss the prince as plaintiff. The judge also dismissed two other Saudi plaintiffs because the U.S. court did not have jurisdiction over them.

Biden’s administration argued that there was a long-standing precedent regarding immunity for heads of government in other countries’ courts. In some cases, the Biden administration demanded that the prince be protected as prime minister, despite the fact that he had just been awarded the title.

Again citing sovereign immunity, the Biden administration had already spared Prince Mohammed of any government penalties in this case. Saudi exiles and rights groups argued that Prince Mohammed’s release from responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder would allow the crown prince and other world rulers to continue their abuses.

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