Washington: A US judge, on Tuesday (local time) dismissed the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia`s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This statement came after US President Joe Biden`s administration recommended that the crown prince be granted immunity in the case, CNN reported. It is pertinent to mention that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a dissident Saudi journalist who was killed at Saudi Arabia`s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The case was brought against Arabia`s crown prince by Khashoggi`s fiancee, according to CNN. During the court filing, the State Department expressed misgivings about Khashoggi`s murder in its determination last month that Crown Prince Mohammed was legally immune, according to The Hill.
“In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” the department said. Judge John Bates said in an opinion that despite his “uneasiness,” the US government told the DC District Court that Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune since he also holds the title of prime minister and so he is “entitled to head of state immunity,” according to the CNN.
That unease was not only due to the prince`s involvement in Khashoggi`s murder, the judge wrote, but also the timing of his appointment as prime minister of Saudi Arabia. Bin Salman, known as MBS, was only made Prime Minister – and therefore the technical head of the government – in late September in what observers saw as a ploy to secure the head of government immunity in the lawsuit brought by Hatice Cengiz and Khashoggi`s advocacy group DAWN.
Bates noted the “suspicious timing” of the prince`s appointment and the plaintiffs` argument that until now, only the king was the country`s prime minister, CNN reported.”A contextualized look at the [Saudi] Royal Order thus suggests that it was not motivated by a desire for bin Salman to be the head of government, but instead to shield him from potential liability in this case,” Bates wrote.
Earlier, Biden, who went to Saudi Arabia in July this year, raised the issue of Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist`s death.”I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah.
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