Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity in Jamal Khashoggi killing: US

After more than four years of the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States administration ruled on Thursday that the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity in the case from the jurisdiction of US courts. The ruling drew immediate condemnation from Khashoggi’s former fiancée.

“This is a legal determination made by the State Department under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law and has nothing to do with the merits of the case,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a written statement.

“Jamal died again today,” Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s ex-fiancée tweeted minutes after the US ruling.



“May God have mercy on the pure soul of Jamal,” she said in another tweet. In October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The intelligence agencies of the US accused Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for the murder prompting the country to toughen its action against the kingdom.

The document that attorneys of the Justice Department filed in the District Court of Columbia, clearly states that “the doctrine of the head of state immunity is well established in customary international law.”

It added that the Biden administration has “determined that defendant bin Salman, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head of state immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts as a result of that office.”

The immunity became more clear after, in September, Saudi King Salman named Prince Mohammed prime minister in royal order, which was seen as a mere formality and Prince Mohammed was already enjoying those powers and privileges.

“The Royal Order leaves no doubt that the Crown Prince is entitled to status-based immunity,” lawyers for the prince said. They requested a federal district court in Washington to dismiss the case, citing the immunity enjoyed by Prince Mohammed.

US President Joe Biden has expressed a tough stand against Saudi King in his speeches but was criticized when he met Prince Mohammed in July to discuss security and energy issues. Initially, the Prince denied his role in the killings, but later accepted that they took place “under his watch.”

With inputs from Reuters.



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