Saudi prosecutor will seek death penalties in Khashoggi case

Posted January 05, 2019

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that at the court session, which was held in Riyadh, the prosecutor demanded that "proper punishments" be imposed against the 11 defendants and that "capital punishment" sentences be handed to five of them over their direct involvement in the killing.

Speaking to press members in Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani reiterated the office's call for an independent investigation, "with global involvement", into the incident. Human Rights Group Reprieve estimates 700 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since 2014. 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.

After Saudi Arabia admitted Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate, five high-ranking officials were dismissed, including Bin Salman's media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service.

In his work as a journalist, he had regularly been critical of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The trial of murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has opened in Saudi Arabia. A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "The whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi's remains are still unknown, but a Turkish TV channel on Monday showed men carrying suitcases purportedly containing the remains into the residence of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul".

The prosecutor's office said ten other suspects were still under investigation.

Prosecutors announced that 11 suspects in the slaying attended their first court hearing with lawyers, however they have not been named.

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. It gave no details on the next hearing.

The Saudis claimed in late October that 18 suspects had been apprehended in connection with the murder, but their names have not been released. After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged weeks later that he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.

Last week, Salman put Ibrahim al-Assaf, a veteran former finance minister, in charge of foreign affairs in an effort to improve the kingdom's image.