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Saudi still detaining dozens from ‘corruption’ purge

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi King Salman (L) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia is keeping dozens of people, including one prince, who were arrested in a so-called anti-corruption purge last November, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The prince was named as Turki bin Abdullah, son of late King Abdullah and a former governor of Riyadh, the paper reported on Wednesday. The rest are other former officials and businessmen.

The authorities have even made new arrests recently.

They have subjected some of the detainees to physical and psychological abuse.

“Some of the detainees have been beaten and deprived of sleep while being questioned,” the WSJ said, citing officials and people close to them.

“In some cases, these people said, those in custody haven’t been charged with crimes and have been permitted little or no contact with relatives or lawyers,” it added.

Shortly after the arrest spree, the Middle East Eye news portal said a number of the high-profile figures had sustained serious injuries under beatings and torture.

According to the report, several of those subjected to physical abuse were taken to hospital with torture injuries. There were, however, no wounds to their faces so they would look normal when they appeared next in public, it had added.

‘Death penalty’

The daily cited people with ties to several of the detainees as saying that the authorities had raised the prospect of treason or terror charges, which could lead to prison or the death penalty “as a tactic aimed at pressing for untrue confessions or financial settlements.”

Hundreds of princes, ministers, and former ministers were detained on November 9, 2017 on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The detained individuals faced allegations of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and misappropriation of public funds for personal benefit.

A total of $100 billion was exacted from many of the detainees before they could be released.

Some of those released are banned from leaving the kingdom and some have had to wear ankle monitors.

Bin Salman, who was surprisingly made the power behind the throne last June after replacing former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is accused of using the crackdown to consolidate his power.

He also faces claims of trying to push aside his opponents prior to his expected rise to ultimate power in the kingdom.

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