Saudi prosecutors seek death penalty as Khashoggi murder trial opens

Posted January 05, 2019

Saudi prosecutors have called for the death penalty against five suspects accused of planning and carrying out the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago.

The statement added that 11 accused appeared in the Criminal Court of Riyadh with their lawyers, five of whom are accused of involvement in the killing of Khashoggi.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor said Turkey has yet to respond to requests to release specific evidence in the case.

In response to a question about the seeking of death sentences for five suspects by a Saudi prosecutor, she said the United Nations rights office always opposed the death penalty.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed October 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. It was later revealed that he had been killed.

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Khashoggi's body is believed to have been dismembered.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A source, who read the translated version and who has been briefed on the investigation into Khashoggi's killing, has made the revelations to CNN.

The statement added that the Public Prosecution continues to investigate a number of accused in Khashoggi killing, while it sought execution for five accused in the crime. Saudi Arabia has sent two previous letters to the prosecutor in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkey's demands to deport Saudi nationals saying the kingdom would not extradite suspected connected to the murder case.

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Saudi Arabia will keep the trial behind closed doors so any confession by the defendants that they were ordered to kill Khashoggi by someone in the royal family could be kept confidential.

The grisly details of the killing created an embarrassing diplomatic scandal for Saudi Arabia, particularly for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who took steps to distance himself from it. USA intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the killing, but President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia is a strong ally and there's not enough evidence.

The kingdom initially denied Mr Khashoggi was murdered but - under increasing global condemnation - later changed its story and admitted the 59-year-old was killed as part of a "rogue operation".

Last month, USA senators passed the measure that blamed the prince for Khashoggi's killing and called on Riyadh to "ensure appropriate accountability". USA officials, however, had said such a mission - including 15 men sent from Riyadh - could not have been carried out without the authorization of Bin Salman.

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