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Saudi Arabia Calls for Death Penalty in Khashoggi Murder



By Stephen Kalin

RIYADH (Reuters) – The Saudi Arabian prosecutor calls for the death penalty for five out of eleven suspects accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi, told his bureau on Thursday with his biggest political crisis for a generation.

Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Saudi politics, was killed on October 2 at the country's Istanbul Consulate after a fatal syringe battle, Deputy Prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al-Shalaan told reporters.

His body was dismembered, removed from the building and given to a "local employee" whose identity was not confirmed, he added. The whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains are unknown.

Shalaan said the Washington Post columnist was assassinated because "negotiations" for his return to the kingdom had failed and the murder was ordered by a chief of a negotiating team who had sent Khashoggi back after his decision. It was impossible to turn him off to remove the consulate.

Shalaan said Khashoggi's repatriation order came from former deputy intelligence chief General Ahmed al-Asiri, who was released last month following a first investigation.

Asked if Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a role in the murder, he said, "He had no knowledge."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said command of the operation came from the highest level of the Saudi leadership, but probably not by King Salman, instead placing the 33-year-old heir Prince Mohammed at the center.

US President Donald Trump has pointed out that the final responsibility lies with the prince as the de facto ruler.

Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance and made contradictory statements, including that he was killed in a rogue operation. The case has triggered a worldwide outcry, opened the kingdom to possible sanctions, and tarnished the image of Prince Mohammed.

Some claims made on Thursday contradicted previous versions, none of which mentioned a drug-related death, and one of them deliberate killing based on information provided by the Turkish authorities.

Death sentence

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the measures announced by the Saudi Arabian Prosecutor's Office were "positive but inadequate" and repeated Ankara's request to the 15-man man team in Turkey to be brought to justice , "

" The prosecution has requested the death penalty for five people who are being charged with ordering and committing the crime, as well as for the appropriate penalties for the other defendants, "Shalaan said without naming her 19659015] He said that 11 out of 21 suspects have been prosecuted and taken to court while investigations continue with the remaining suspects

A former senior aide to Crown Prince Saud al-Qahtani has imposed a travel ban while the investigation continues because of his role Shalaan.

He said Qahtani was coordinating With Asiri, he met the activists prior to their trip to Istanbul to inform them about the journalist's activities.

Qahtani has already been dismissed by the royal court, but four on the Gulf of Gulf region sources told Reuters this week that it is still free and operating e still discreet.

Earlier, a high-ranking government official identified the head of the negotiating team as Maher Mutreb, a Qahtani advisor who was photographed with Prince Mohammed during official visits to the United States and Europe this year. 19659020] Six weeks after the murder, Turkey attempts to maintain pressure on Prince Mohammed and has published a series of evidence that undermines Riyadh's early refusal to engage in orders related to the killing it shared with Western allies. Erdogan said the shootings were "horrific" and shocked a Saudi intelligence official who had listened to them, reports the Turkish press.

Last month, two intelligence officials said Qahtani had given orders to Khashoggi's killers over Skype. Recently, a government source familiar with the matter said Qahtani had been a prominent topic in the shootings.

Shalaan declined to confirm that Saudi Arabian authorities had heard the recordings. He said Riad asked Ankara to share testimony and hand over Khashoggi's cell phones.

(Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan and Asma Al Sharif in Dubai, written by Tuqa Khalid and Ghaida Ghantous, edited by Gareth Jones, William Maclean)

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