Prosecutors call for death penalty as Khashoggi murder trial opens in Riyadh

The Saudi prosecutor has requested that five of the 11 accused receive capital punishment sentences

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2014, file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. A New York-based organization dedicated to the safety of journalists says the number killed worldwide in reprisal for their work, including Khashoggi, nearly doubled in 2018. Khashoggi was one of 53 journalists killed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, 2018, the committee said. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
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Saudi prosecutors have called for the death penalty against five suspects accused of planning and carrying out the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

The Criminal Court in Riyadh held the first session for the 11 suspects on Thursday, the Saudi state news agency said.

The Public Prosecutor also said they had asked for Turkey to provide evidence for the trial, but had not received a reply.

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


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His disappearance and apparent murder caused an international outcry.

The Saudi government's top prosecutor said in November, a month and a half after Khashoggi's disappearance, that they would be seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 accused.

Official reports of the trial did not detail exactly who was included in the case that opened on Thursday but Saudi officials said Khashoggi was killed in a 15-man "rogue operation" led by the then deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al Assiri and royal court adviser Saud Al Qahtani. Both former officials have been sacked and both were slapped with sanctions by the US Treasury Department in mid-November.

Members of the Saudi government deny that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was involved in the killing of Khashoggi.

Turkish media have published photographs of members of the crown prince's entourage at the consulate ahead of the slaying. Khashoggi's body, believed to have been dismembered, has not been found.

Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkey’s demands to deport Saudi nationals saying the kingdom would not extradite suspected connected to the murder case.

The Kingdom is creating three government bodies to increase oversight of its intelligence operations, a move that follows the killing of Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate.