Iran’s judiciary chief on Monday slammed Saudi Arabia over the “heinous murder” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and blasted Western countries for “double standards”.
After more than two weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia admitted over the weekend that Khashoggi was murdered in its Istanbul consulate but Riyadh’s explanations have been seen by friends and foes alike as contradictory and evasive.
Saudi Arabia is involved in a war in Yemen as the head of a military coalition supporting the government against Shiite Huthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia is a major regional adversary for Iran and the rivalry between the two powers has intensified as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has stamped his authority over the kingdom.
“This heinous murder further revealed the nature of Saudis, their kingdom and that young man who is seeking fame and murdering innocent people,” Sadegh Amoli Larijani was quoted as saying by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online, apparently referring to the crown prince.
“We can see the West’s double standards on issues regarding human rights… (they) became sensitive over the killing of this journalist and are seemingly following up, but they are silent on the crimes being committed in Yemen,” the judiciary chief added.
Saudi Arabia is involved in a war in Yemen as the head of a military coalition supporting the government against Shiite Huthi rebels. The coalition has drawn heavy UN criticism for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign in Yemen.
Iran says it politically supports the rebels but has denied allegations it is arming them. Iran had so far stayed quiet on the Khashoggi case, with Larijani’s remarks being the first official reaction as Tehran has watched the furore over the Saudi journalist’s fate plunge its rival into crisis.
Britain, France and Germany have urged Riyadh to clarify how Khashoggi died, while US President Donald Trump accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing.
“Saudi Arabia at first set out to cover up this crime with the help of the West and recently when it was forced to acknowledge it, it claimed that some rogue elements committed this crime to whitewash its corrupt system”, Larijani said. He called on the world to grasp the gravity of “Saudi state terrorism”.
On Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview with Fox News that “individuals… (acting) outside the scope of their authority” were responsible for the “murder”, and denied Prince Mohammed was behind it.
Britain, France and Germany have urged Riyadh to clarify how Khashoggi died, while US President Donald Trump accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing, saying in an interview “their stories are all over the place”.
© Agence France-Presse