Khashoggi had been tortured, killed, and severed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he had gone to obtain documents in preparation for his marriage.
Consider torture crimes
The lawyer for the “Gulf Center for Human Rights”, William Burdon, said that Major General Asiri, the former deputy chief of Saudi General Intelligence, is responsible for the “physical and psychological abuses” Khashoggi suffered before his death.
French courts are authorized to consider torture crimes, but not murders, so the “Gulf Center for Human Rights” stresses in its judicial complaint the charge of torturing Khashoggi, not killing him, according to Bourdon.
The United States imposed sanctions on Asiri and members of the Saudi Rapid Intervention Forces for their involvement in the February killing of the Saudi journalist.
The US Treasury Department announced a freeze on the assets of those subject to sanctions and a ban on dealing with “rapid intervention forces”, which a declassified American intelligence report concluded that it was conferring with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Asiri.
According to the legal complaint filed on Friday in France, Asiri was “the one who prepared and planned the mission that included the torture and subsequent death of the journalist,” according to documents reviewed by Feras Press.
Asiri is close to the Saudi crown prince, and he was acquitted in a closed trial in Saudi Arabia that was denounced by human rights organizations. Khashoggi was strangled, and then a Saudi group of 15 members cut his body inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkish officials, and his remains were not found.
In December 2019, a Saudi court issued verdicts against 11 people whose identities were not revealed, as they were convicted of killing the Saudi journalist, against the backdrop of a campaign of international pressure that the kingdom was subjected to.
“France has a strong duty to arrest those suspected of practicing torture if they are on our territory,” Bourdon said, adding that Asiri “is probably in France now, or comes here at least regularly.” Bourdon added that Major General Asiri is fluent in French and pursued his studies at the French Military Academy Saint-Cyr and “regularly visits the Ministry of Defense, where he has knowledge.” The Gulf Center for Human Rights, based in Lebanon, provides assistance and protection to human rights defenders in the Gulf and neighboring countries. It was not possible to obtain from the Saudi embassy in Paris any comment about the judicial complaint.