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Saudi courts prepare framework for corruption detainees

Saudi courts prepare framework for corruption detainees

Around 90 businessmen, royals and former government officials are still being held

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council has reportedly established two criminal circuits at courts in Riyadh and Jeddah to look into the cases of corruption suspects who refuse to settle.

The news comes following the release of a number of high profile figures snared by the November corruption crackdown including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the owner of regional television network MBC, Waleed al-Ibrahim.

Read: Saudi winds down corruption purge but scars linger

Saudi Gazette cited sources as confirming the plans for the circuits, which will consist of three judges each to consider the charges against the suspects.

Last week, the kingdom’s attorney general Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said charges have been dropped against 90 suspects detained in the probe and 95 were still being held at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

Of these, five that were said to be considering settlements are understood to have been released, meaning 90 are still being held.

Read: Saudi to recover more than $100bn in corruption settlements

The kingdom’s Public Prosecution will soon start investigating a number of people held at the Ritz Carlton as it prepares to open to the public next month, according to the sources.

Although the publication indicated the opening has now been pushed back to February 25, rather than the February 14 date reported earlier this month.

Read: Saudi hotel to reopen after being used as prison

Investigators have the power to release or detain suspects but they cannot be held for more than six months.

If they refuse to settle during this period they will be sent to court under a list of charges prepared by the attorney general.

A final decision on whether to press charges or release the individual will be made by the Public Prosecution.

The sources told Saudi Gazette that the public prosecutor has the right to subpoena new suspects or witnesses and any court cases would follow normal procedures.

Those that refuse to settle are expected to face 14 charges relating to bribery, forgery, money laundering, power misuse, dissipating public funds and amassing wealth at the expense of the government.

Lawyer and legal consultant Saad Al-Bahouth said those found guilty face a prison sentence of at least 10 years, a fine of SAR1m ($266,650) and the confiscation of money illegally gained through corruption.

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