The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi has said the world has failed to hold Saudi Arabia to account

There are quite a lot of cases when agents of a state can kill (with or without sanction) an individual: a spy, an "undesirable" person, a terrorist in a third country.

Using this case as an example, can SA be held accountable for killing the journalist (in 'having a tribunal' sense)?

Can a state be prosecuted for killing a foreign spy? What if a country sends a task force to eliminate a terrorist in a 3rd country?

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    What makes you think she means accountable in the narrow definition of tried and found guilty in a trial? – Damila Feb 4 at 18:04
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    Khashoggi murder happened in Saudi Arabia embassy and not in a 3rd country. Only SA law apply for the case, that's what souvereignity is for. – fraxinus Feb 4 at 18:05
  • @Damila I don't know what she means exactly, it's just an example and a premise. – homocomputeris Feb 4 at 18:09
  • "...hold Saudi Arabia to account" is a figure of speech en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_of_speech – BlueDogRanch Feb 4 at 18:20
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    @fraxinus Embassies are not the sovereign territory of the sending state; this is a widely held misconception. Turkish law is completely applicable in the embassy. It's just that the embassy is inviolable. But if a Turkish prosecutor could obtain custody of a suspect (and develop enough evidence against that person), even without the cooperation of the Saudi government, it would be possible to prosecute. Prosecuting the state itself, if course, is a different matter. – phoog Feb 5 at 3:10

There is no possibility of legally holding a country "to account" for an action. An individual could be legally tried for a crime (murder), and a country could via a political process be made to suffer the consequences if a leader performs some act (it need not be illegal). Germany, Iran and Russia have historically suffered certain consequences of actions held to be "officially sanctioned", and individuals such as Adolf Eichmann have been specifically punished; Fahad Shabib Albalawi and 4 others were sentanced to death for involvement in Khashoggi's murder. Punitive recourse against a country is always via political / military action.

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    This is a good answer for criminal liability, but in theory one can sue one country in another (at least in the US) and if there are assets in the country you sue in, can try to collect. Here is an example of a suit against Iran in the US. npr.org/2016/10/08/497164736/… – Damila Feb 4 at 19:07

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