Saudi prosecution demands 5 defendants be executed for Jamal Khashoggi murder

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul in October. AP

Saudi public prosecutor stated that further to the statements issued on 19/10/2018, 25/10/2018 and on 15/11/2018, the initial hearing for the 11 individuals indicted by the Public Prosecution in the case of the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi was held Thursday 3/1/2019 in the Criminal Court of Riyadh.

The official Saudi Press Agency and state television gave few details about the hearing and did not name the suspects.

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

Jamal Khashoggi, a former government insider turned self-exiled critic of Saudi policy who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed on October 2 previous year after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi's body, believed to have been dismembered, has not been found.

Khashoggi, 59, entered the consulate October 2 as his fiancée waited outside.

The defence team on Thursday requested a copy of the indictment sheet and a timeframe within which to review the charges.

The prosecution agreed to both requests, SPA said.

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A Central Intelligence Agency assessment concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of Khashoggi.

The trial is the latest development in a case that has triggered a reckoning about USA support of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, as well as the financial influence of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Under Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia has seen the arrest of business leaders, royals and activists while also recently granting women the right to drive.

It was unclear whether Qahtani and Ahmad al-Assiri, two senior aides to Prince Mohammed initially implicated in Khashoggi's murder, were among those on trial. The Senate also passed a resolution meant to hold Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, NPR's Bill Chappell reports.

The Khashoggi affair has also given Turkey - allied with Saudi rivals Qatar and Iran - unusual leverage in regional power plays.

Ankara had demanded that the suspects be extradited to face trial in Istanbul, and is calling for a United Nations probe into the killing.

"This is why a UN-led and independent investigation is needed into the murder of Khashoggi".

Ankara, which has pledged repeatedly to allow nobody to escape justice in the case, has sought the extradition of the suspects in Saudi custody to stand trial in Turkey.

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