EU human rights chair calls for justice in Khashoggi case

Published 14.03.2019 00:24
Updated 14.03.2019 00:29

Justice must be achieved for the murdered dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the chair of the EU's Subcommittee on Human Rights wrote in an opinion piece published on Tuesday.

"Khashoggi's heinous murder shines a light on how these rights have been brutally trampled on under the Saudi regime," Antonio Panzeri wrote in The Washington Post newspaper.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a critic of Crown Prince M. bin Salman (MBS), was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at its consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 provoking an international outcry.The kingdom initially denied any role in Khashoggi's disappearance before acknowledging that he was murdered inside the consulate. Riyadh quickly passed the buck to rogue agents, while insisting that the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the matter, an explanation far from convincing for many.A Saudi public prosecutor spokesman, on the other hand, said last year that 22 Saudis were taken into custody in relation to the case, 11 of whom have been indicted and are awaiting trial. The prosecutor also said that it was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 detained suspects.

Panzeri said that despite going on a "tour of world capitals" to tout reforms in his country that portray it as being a regional leader in human rights, Saudi crown prince's government has been "following a path that leads in a completely different direction."

"The regime, despite small concessions, has continued to behave in an authoritarian and repressive manner," said Panzeri. "The need to forge relationships with international powers explains the crown prince's occasional concessions. Fortunately, there are still some leaders who see through the smokescreen and have some qualms about trading with a dictator."

Khashoggi's murder forced many countries to reassess their ties with Riyadh. Although Saudi officials have denied numerous times that the royal family and MBS had no prior knowledge of the murder, all evidence has been pointing to the crown prince as the mastermind. Despite more than five months passing since Khashoggi's assassination, the whereabouts of his body remain unknown.

Panzeri emphasized the EU must "remain active" in Khashoggi's case, saying he "will continue to work to ensure that the truth about what happened to Khashoggi emerges."

"The Saudi leadership cannot get away with so little action," he said.

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