Tue | Nov 21, 2017

Government says corruption probe detainees will face trial

Published:Tuesday | November 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The new Economy and Planning Minister, Mohammad al-Tuwaijri (right) and the new National Guard chief, Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin (left) pose for a photo with King Salman during a swearing in ceremony, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday.

RIYADH (AP):

Saudi Arabia's newly established anti-corruption committee overseeing the arrests of top princes and officials said yesterday that evidence of widespread corruption has been uncovered among "influential officials and senior executives" and that trials will soon be held, the first tacit government acknowledgement of the seniority of those under investigation.

Skeptics of the sweep say it is punishing select figures in the country, some of whom were potential rivals or possible critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who heads the anti-corruption committee that was formed late Saturday shortly before the arrests.

King Salman, meanwhile, conducted state business as usual, swearing in new officials to take over from a powerful prince and former minister believed to be detained in the large-scale sweep that has shocked the country and upended long-standing traditions within the ruling family.

The official Saudi Press Agency released images of the king swearing in new National Guard chief Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin and new Economy and Planning Minister Mohammad al-Tuwaijri.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who for the past four years had led the National Guard, and Adel Fakeih, who was minister of economy since April, were both reportedly arrested as part of the purported anti-corruption probe led by the king's son, the crown prince.

Eleven princes and 38 officials and businessmen are reportedly being held at five-star hotels across the capital, Riyadh.

Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb warned in a statement that trials will be held "in a timely and open manner" and that the probe is "merely the start of a vital process to root out corruption".

He said the arrests were made in order to "ensure there was no flight from justice".

"A great deal of evidence has already been gathered, and detailed questioning has taken place," al-Mojeb said.