Human Rights Watch voiced concern late Tuesday over the arrest of about 300 government officials in Saudi Arabia on corruption allegations, warning of possible "unfair legal proceedings" in an opaque judicial system.
The ongoing crackdown on dissent in the country was widened with 298 government officials, including military and security officers, detained on charges involving bribery and exploiting public office, as reported by the Middle East Eye earlier this week.
"The fight against corruption is no excuse for flagrant due process violations and preventing people from mounting an adequate defense," Michael Page, HRW's deputy Middle East director, said in a statement.
"Given their track record of abuse, the Saudi authorities should make fundamental reforms to the justice system to ensure that the accused will not be railroaded in unfair legal proceedings," he said.
Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption commission, Nazaha, said the arrests came after it criminally investigated 674 state employees, but neither named any of the suspects nor stated when its probe took place.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and next in line for the throne, appears anxious to take over his father's legacy.
The move came after the arrest of two senior princes – Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz and the king's nephew and former counterterrorism czar, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef – that triggered speculation about a possible coup attempt or a sudden deterioration in the king's health.
MBS was the second crown prince before Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was shunted out of the line of succession in mid-2017. In the same year, dozens of Saudi royals, former state officials and influential businessmen were rounded up in an anti-corruption sweep. MBS has remained the only crown prince since then. He pursued an unusual method in the kingdom’s domestic politics and destroyed the dynastic balance in the internal political structure to eliminate the threats that may be directed at him.
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