Switzerland suspends arms shipment to Saudi over Khashoggi case

Bern temporarily stops sending spare parts and munitions for air-defence systems and firearms for private use.

    Bern said it could potentially reverse the decision in the future [Cliff Owen/AP]
    Bern said it could potentially reverse the decision in the future [Cliff Owen/AP]

    Switzerland has halted the delivery of spare weapon parts to Saudi Arabia, citing concern over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

    Fabian Maienfisch, spokesman of the economic affairs department, told AFP news agency on Wednesday that Bern would follow developments and potentially reverse the decision in the future.

    The Swiss government halted arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2009 but was until now supplying the kingdom with spare parts as well as munitions for air-defence systems and firearms for private use.

    Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

    On Wednesday, Turkey's chief prosecutor made details of the murder public for the first time, revealing that the journalist had been strangled as soon as he entered the consulate.

    Gruesome reports in the Turkish media had previously alleged that Khashoggi had been killed and cut into pieces by a team sent from Riyadh to silence him. His body is still missing.

    After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, then saying he died in a brawl during an interview, the Saudi government ultimately admitted he was killed by a "rogue operation", and arrested 18 people.

    The case has sorely strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the West and has fuelled international debate about arms deliveries to the ultra-conservative kingdom.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency