Saudi Arabia sacks military leader amid corruption probe | News | DW | 01.09.2020

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Saudi Arabia sacks military leader amid corruption probe

A probe into corruption at the Defense Ministry has led to the sacking of a senior military commander and his son. The investigation was launched after a recommendation from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi military commander leading the kingdom's war in Yemen was removed from his position and placed under investigation on Tuesday, along with his son and other defense ministry officers.

Saudi's anti-corruption watchdog "disclosed financial corruption at the Ministry of Defense linked to" Prince Fahad bin Turki, a senior member of the royal family, and his son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad, according to a statement circulated by the official Saudi Press Agency.

An initial probe into "suspicious financial dealings monitored at the Ministry of Defense" was launched following a recommendation by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has orchestrated a far-reaching campaign against corruption in public office as part of his reform program.

However, critics believe Prince Mohammed has used the anti-corruption campaign to target potential rivals and consolidate his claim to the throne.

Anti-corruption scheme

The anti-corruption drive has resulted in hundreds of arrests across the kingdom.

Last month, Saudi authorities sacked several senior security commanders over corruption allegations involving tourism projects. In March, more than 298 Saudi officials were arrested on graft-related charges.

However, the largest crackdown happened in 2017, when hundreds of top princes, ministers and businessmen were arrested at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the capital Riyadh.They were held at the luxury hotel for weeks until many of them agreed to major financial settlements. Saudi authorities said they recovered more than $100 billion (€84 billion).

Human rights groups have called for transparency concerning the trials, with Human Rights Watch warning that defendants could face "flagrant due process violations."

"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," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

ls,kbd/stb (Reuters, AFP)

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