UK MPs launch investigation into missing Saudi royals
A panel of British lawmakers and lawyers have launched an inquiry into two missing Saudi princes, including the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
The panel has been established to investigate and report on the detention of the princes as well as other key political figures detained during a crackdown on perceived opponents of Saudi Crown Prince and de-facto leader Mohammed bin Salman.
Rights groups say the princes have reportedly been denied legal advice, medical care, and contact with their family since their disappearance in March.
The Saudi royal court accused the two men, once potential contenders for the throne, of "plotting a coup to unseat the king and crown prince" and could face lifetime in prison or execution, local media said at the time.
The panel consists of three MPs – two from the Conservative Party, Crispin Blunt and Imran Ahmad Khan and Liberal Democrats MP Layla Moran have urged an answer to the whereabouts and well-being of the royals.
They will make requests to visit the two detainees in Saudi Arabia in order to review the conditions. If the Saudi authorities refuse, the panel said it will gather any evidence it can from other sources and publish the findings.
"Our panel has submitted a request to the Saudi embassy in London for their assistance in organising a visit to the former crown prince Nayef and Prince Abdulaziz in order to establish the conditions of their detention," said Blunt, who is chairing the panel.
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"We have requested a visit to review the conditions under which they are being held along with permission to carry out an independent medical evaluation of their current health. Following an initial meeting with me, the Saudi ambassador to the UK has agreed to meet our panel in full more formally next week."
The Saudi ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, informally met Blunt earlier this week.
"I'm pleased to be part of the panel following my previous work with Crispin Blunt on the Detention Review Panel looking into women political prisoners in Saudi Arabia," Moran told The New Arab.
"The detention of the princes is incredibly concerning. I'm looking forward to receiving the evidence and reviewing it with my colleagues."
She said Saudi Arabia's hosting of the G20 is an opportunity for the kingdom to show the world it is serious about improving its human rights record.
"That process can start with working with the panel to allow us to visit the prisoners where they are being detained," she added.
Bin Salman, also known by his initials MbS, has faced a torrent of international condemnation over the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in October 2018.
Already labeled as Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler, after grabbing control of the main levers of power, from the economy to military, the prince is seen as stamping down out all traces of internal dissent, as he prepares to take over as monarch from his frail 84-year-old father, King Salman.