Is the Saudi prince Immune from Lawsuits? US district court asks govt

The fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Saudi in 2018, Hatice Cengiz, has filed a civil complaint against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the United States. The Biden administration has until August 1 to respond to the petition.

US district court judge John Bates said in an order on Friday that the US government can respond to the case among other things, “regarding the applicability of head-of-state immunity in this case.” If the government fails to respond, Mohammad and other defendants have until August 16 to respond.

Mohammed bin Salman and twenty co-defendants were named in a lawsuit brought in 2020 by Cengiz and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), an organisation dedicated to human rights that Khashoggi created before his murder.

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According to the lawsuit, Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered on orders from the crown prince, also known by the initials MBS.

Motions to dismiss Cengiz’s complaint have been filed by the crown prince and two of the co-defendants, who argue that the court lacks both subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Saudi officials have attributed Khashoggi’s death to “rogue agents.” However, the crown prince has already denied ordering the journalist’s murder.

In 2018, the CIA came to the contrary conclusion to Saudi Arabia’s assertion that the crown prince was unaware of the plot and had not given the go-ahead to kill Khashoggi.

The upcoming visit will “enhance the historic and strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, as both countries aim to deepen and strengthen the existing areas of cooperation, and lay the foundations for the future of this strategic partnership,” according to the Saudi Embassy.

Oct. 2, 2018, Khashoggi was assassinated after he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get the paperwork he needed to wed Cengiz. He had been fiercely critical of the crown prince, who essentially runs Saudi Arabia and has carried out a crackdown on competitors and dissidents, in columns for The Washington Post in the months before that visit.

The Turkish government initially made public the journalist’s demise and dismemberment. Following the murder, attempts to isolate Saudi leadership and a wave of worldwide disgust erupted.

After the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan completed its trial of alleged members of the Saudi squad that killed the journalist in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, a separate effort to prosecute Khashoggi’s murder in Turkey came to an end lately. The suspects were being tried in their absence while they were all in Saudi Arabia.

The trial was put on hold in Turkey in April at the same time as Erdogan’s administration tried to mend its broken ties with the kingdom following Khashoggi’s murder.

Regarding the Turkish ruling and her American case, Cengiz declared at the time, “We will search for justice in the United States.”

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