Riyadh (AFP) – Dozens of Saudi detainees caught up in a government anti-graft crackdown could be referred to courts specialised in cases of national security and terrorism, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Sunday.
They include individuals who refused to agree to confidential settlements with the government, and others believed to be guilty of “a greater offence”, the pan-Arab daily quoted Saudi Arabia’s deputy attorney-general Saud al-Hamad as saying.
“Each of these cases will be dealt with separately. Some will be examined by departments specialised in money laundering, while others will be referred to courts specialised in issues of national security and terrorism,” Hamad said.
In November, 381 Saudi royals, ministers and tycoons were detained in an anti-corruption crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in January that the majority had been released after agreeing to financial settlements totalling over 400 billion riyals ($107 bn) in various forms of assets and cash.
To date, 56 people are known to remain in custody, their whereabouts unknown since the initial holding place — the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton — was re-opened on February 11.
Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor general has launched fresh investigations and judicial proceedings against those detainees, Asharq al-Awsat said, quoting the deputy attorney-general.
“Depending on the result, the investigation will be referred to the relevant court,” Hamad said.
Saudi King Salman in March ordered the creation of specialised anti-corruption units to investigate and prosecute graft cases.
Officials have not made public the charges against suspects detained at the Ritz-Carlton.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of the king, is behind the unprecedented crackdown on corruption, as he consolidates his grip on power.
Some critics have labelled Prince Mohammed’s campaign a shakedown and power grab, but authorities insist the purge targeted endemic corruption as the country prepares for a post-oil era.