Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi killing

Riyadh has admitted that a pre-meditated plan was made to kill Khashoggi

Five Saudi officials face the death penalty for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not involved, the prosecutor said on Thursday.

Eleven people have been charged in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who went missing after last being seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Al-Mojeb told reporters in Riyadh that the highest-level official implicated in Khashoggi's killing is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who gave the order for him to be repatriated from Turkey.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor's office denied Prince Mohammed had any knowledge of the killing in response to a journalist's question.

During a press conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the Public Prosecution's spokesperson explained that the team failed to persuade Khashoggi to return home, afterwhich the head of the negotiation team concluded that it would not be possible to transfer the victim by force to the safe location in case the negotiations with him to return failed.

Khashoggi's body was then dismembered and taken out of the building, he said.

Investigations are still ongoing to find the remains of Khashoggi.

The prosecutor has requested the death penalty for the five who "are charged with ordering and committing the crime and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals", according to a statement published by state news agency SPA said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order came from "the highest levels" of the Riyadh government, but stopped short of pointing the finger of blame at the Saudi crown prince.

He was sacked for allegedly ordering Khashoggi to return to the consulate.

The prosecutor says 21 people are now in custody, with 11 indicted and referred to trial.

Critics of Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman and Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, believe it is highly unlikely he would not have been aware of the operation.

A spokesperson for the prosecution said that Turkey had been asked to provide the Kingdom with evidence related to the case, the report added.

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