Belgium to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia

© 2018 AFP / BELGA/Dirk WaemВоенные in Belgium. Archival photoBelgium to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia© 2018 AFP / BELGA/Dirk Waem

The authorities of the Walloon region, where is located the head of the military-industrial Belgium company FN Herstal, can introduce a temporary ban on the export of arms to Saudi Arabia in a situation with the death of a Saudi journalist Jamal Casucci, said Sunday the head of the regional government of Willy Borsu.

Saudi Arabia’s export volume ranks third in the list of clients FN Herstal. According to local media reports, in 2017, the Belgian manufacturer of sold er-Riad arms for 157 million euros. FN Herstal manufactures various types of small weapons, from automatic pistols to heavy machine guns.

«If the facts (murder Casucci – ed.) are confirmed, we do not exclude the suspension of arms supplies to Saudi Arabia,» said Borso in interview of broadcasting company RTBF.

The head of the Walloon region fully supported the demand of the European Union to Saudi authorities to conduct a «serious and thorough investigation».

The state Council of Belgium in June this year, has temporarily withdrawn from FN Herstal eight licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The legal authority of the Kingdom justified its decision by the fact that the Walloon region, the company issued export permits, were not properly studied the situation with the observance of fundamental rights in Saudi Arabia in accordance with the requirements of the regulations of 21 June 2012 «On the import, export, transit and transfer of civil weapons and defence products».

Saudi journalist Casucci was a columnist for the American newspaper the Washington Post and 2017 were living in the United States. He criticized the actions of the Saudi authorities after the appointment of the crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Casucci went missing in Turkey on 2 October after he had come to the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul for the documents for re-marriage.

State media in Saudi Arabia on the night of Saturday, October 20, issued a message of the Prosecutor General of the country that, according to preliminary data, Casucci dead, and his death brought an unplanned altercation with the staff of the Consulate. In this case arrested the 18 people who questioned, the Saudi authorities seek to establish the truth and bring to justice all those responsible.