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Khashoggi murder: Five suspects may face death penalty

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five suspects charged with the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud al Mojeb said in a statement that 21 people are now in custody over the killing, with 11 people indicted and facing trial.

The highest-level official accused of being behind the murder is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al Assiri, according to the prosecutor’s spokesman Shaalan al Shaalan.

He said Mr Khashoggi’s alleged killers had set in motion plans for the murder on 29 September, three days before he died inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Mr Khashoggi was killed on 2 October after he was given a lethal injection, before his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, Mr al Shaalan told a news conference in Riyadh.

He said the Washington Post columnist was murdered after “negotiations” for his return to the kingdom failed and that the person who ordered the killing was in fact the head of the negotiating team.

The whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi’s body remain unknown, Mr al Shaalan said.

Video: Khashoggi ‘strangled’ and body dismembered

The public prosecutor’s office appeared to distance the alleged killers and their operation from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and has accused two senior officials of giving the orders.

Mr al Shaalan denied the Saudi prince had any knowledge of the killing in response to a journalist’s question.

The brutal death of Mr Khashoggi led many analysts and officials to believe it could not have been carried out without the prince’s knowledge.

Mr al Shaalan said that a former adviser to the royal court, Saud al Qahtani, had been due to meet the team that was ordered to send back Mr Khashoggi.

He added that al Qahtani had been banned from travelling and remained under investigation.

In response, Turkey deemed the Saudi prosecutor’s statements on Mr Khashoggi’s murder as “unsatisfactory”.

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the measures announced by Mr al Mojeb were “positive but insufficient,” insisting that the suspects should be tried in Turkey.

Mr Cavusoglu said: “I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory,” adding that “those who gave the order, the real perpetrators need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way”.

More from Jamal Khashoggi

The minister also questioned why Saudi Arabia indicted only 11 out of 18 detained suspects and said the Saudi prosecutor’s announcement did not reveal where Mr Khashoggi’s remains were taken.

Turkey has said an assassination squad was sent from Riyadh for the writer and insists the orders for the killing came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, but not King Salman.

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