Home / News / World /  Khashoggi murder case: Saudi Prince’s new role gives him immunity, says lawyer

Khashoggi murder case: Saudi Prince’s new role gives him immunity, says lawyer

This handout picture released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending an oath-taking ceremony appointing him as the country's new prime minister, at al-Salam Royal Palace in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on September 27, 2022. (AFP)Premium
This handout picture released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending an oath-taking ceremony appointing him as the country's new prime minister, at al-Salam Royal Palace in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on September 27, 2022. (AFP)

  • Saudi Arabia's power crown prince, 37, whose prior formal role was defence minister was appointed the Prime Minister by his elderly father King Salman on 27 September

Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was made the Prime Minister of the country in September. The journalist Jamal Khashoggi murder accused has now sought immunity from the United States court vide his position. His lawyers have argued that the Crown Prince's  new role as prime minister grants him legal immunity.

A 27 September order naming Prince Mohammed prime minister “leaves no doubt that the Crown Prince is entitled to status-based immunity," Bloomberg quoted Prince Mohammed’s lawyer Michael Kellogg. The lawyer said the court “should dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims against the Crown Prince for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction."

Jamal Khashoggi killing

On 2 October 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his planned marriage, but was never seen leaving. 

Amid news reports claiming that he had been killed and dismembered inside, an inspection of the consulate, by Saudi and Turkish officials, took place on 15 October. 

Initially, the Saudi government denied the death, but following shifting explanations for Khashoggi's death, Saudi Arabia's attorney general eventually stated that the murder was ‘premeditated’. 

By 16 November 2018, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had concluded that Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination. Controversy over the murder has created tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia, including calls for the US to sever diplomatic ties with the kingdom.

MbS made Prime Minister

Saudi Arabia's power crown prince, 37, whose prior formal role was defence minister was appointed the Prime Minister by his elderly father King Salman.   A Royal decree issued late on 27 September named him as prime minister, a title traditionally held by the king. 

The 37-year-old de facto ruler has overseen the most fundamental transformation in the modern history of the Gulf nation and sidelined all rivals after he became crown prince in June 2017.

Murder charges

A lawsuit was filed jointly by Cengiz and a human rights group founded by Khashoggi, and sought unspecified damages against the crown prince, known in the West as MbS. It also named more than 20 other Saudis as co-defendants.

It charged that MbS, his co-defendants and others carried out a plot to "permanently silence Mr. Khashoggi" after discovering he planned to use the group as "a platform to espouse democratic reform and promote human rights."

After the prince's appointment as prime minister last week, the department said on Friday it was seeking a 45-day extension to prepare its response to the court "in light of these changed circumstances."

What is legal immunity?

Legal immunity, or immunity from prosecution, is a legal status wherein an individual or entity cannot be held liable for a violation of the law, in order to facilitate societal aims that outweigh the value of imposing liability in such cases.

(With input from agencies)

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