Saudi prosecutor demands death penalty for five over Khashoggi murder

Jamal Khashoggi

Cairo – Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor on Thursday demanded the death penalty for five people charged with involvement in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a case that has triggered global outrage.

Eleven out of a total of 21 people arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s killing last month have been indicted, a spokesperson for the prosecution said at a press conference in the capital Riyadh.

The official, who was reading out a statement from the country’s top prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb, declined to disclose the names of the 11 defendants.

A former deputy chief of the kingdom’s intelligence service was the one who ordered the formation of a squad sent to Turkey in an attempt to convince Khashoggi to return to his homeland, the official said.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a sharp critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for paper work needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Saudi Arabia finally admitted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a premeditated murder.

Last month, Saudi King Salman sacked five top officials, including the then-deputy chief of the intelligence service, Ahmed al-Asiri, who was once close to the crown prince.

The prosecution spokesperson on Thursday denied Prince Mohammed’s link to the case.

The official said it was the head of the squad, sent to Turkey, who ordered Khashoggi’s killing after having failed to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen [Khashoggi] with a drug overdose that led to his death,” the official said.

The body was dismembered and then handed over to a local collaborator, the official added, without giving the location of the body.

“We are waiting for a response from Turkey for our request to receive evidence and audio recordings related to the case,” he said.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for an international investigation into the case.

“Turkey is not bluffing. We have to share with the international community whatever Turkey has in its hands,” Cavusoglu said in Ankara.

Saudi Arabia has insisted upon its legal system handling Kashoggi’s murder.