- Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thursday said that 11 suspects had been indicted over the death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that he requested the death penalty for five of them.
- The deputy prosecutor also told reporters that Khashoggi died from a lethal injection and that his body was dismembered and taken out of the consulate.
- Saudi agents originally wanted to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia alive, the spokesman said.
- Riyadh has repeatedly changed its narrative of Khashoggi’s death and tried to distance its top leadership, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, from the killing.
- The Saudi prosecutors and foreign minister separately said on Thursday that Crown Prince Mohammed had nothing to do with the killing.
- The prosecutor also said he was waiting for Turkish intelligence to pass over evidence of Khashoggi’s death, including a purported audio recording that captured Khashoggi’s last moments.
Saudi Arabia is seeking the death penalty for five suspects in the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In a Thursday statement, the Saudi public prosecutor said that 11 suspects had been indicted in Khashoggi’s death and that he had requested the death penalty for five of them. None of the suspects were named.
The spokesman for the public prosecutor said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge of the killing, Agence France-Presse reported. Crown Prince Mohammed functions as an absolute monarch in Saudi Arabia with control over courts and legislation.
The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, echoed that claim, telling a separate press conference on Thursday: “Absolutely, his royal highness the crown prince has nothing to do with this issue.” He added that “sometimes people exceed their authority,” without naming any names.
The five people who were recommended for the death penalty are charged with “ordering and committing the crime,” the public prosecutor said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who criticised the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed in articles for The Washington Post, died inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He held a US green card and lived near Washington, DC, for at least a year before his death.
How Khashoggi died, according to Saudi Arabia
The Saudi deputy public prosecutor, Shaalan al-Shaalan, told reporters on Thursday that Khashoggi died from a lethal injection after a struggle inside the Saudi Consulate and that his body was dismembered and taken out of the consulate, according to Reuters.
The agents killed Khashoggi after “negotiations” for the journalist’s return to the kingdom failed, Shaalan said.
He added that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiating team that was dispatched to Istanbul to take Khashoggi home.
The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body are not known, Shaalan added.
Riyadh has changed its narrative of the death multiple times, having initially claimed that Khashoggi safely left the consulate shortly after he entered and then said weeks later that Khashoggi died in a fistfight as part of a “rogue operation.”
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that the prosecutor’s Thursday statement was not “satisfactory” and called for “the real perpetrators need to be revealed.”
Cavusoglu said, according to the Associated Press: “I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory.”
He added: “Those who gave the order, the real perpetrators need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way.”
Earlier this month Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused the “highest levels” of the Saudi leadership of being behind the killing.
Saudi officials have repeatedly tried to distance its leadership, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed, from the killing. There is increasing evidence, however, suggesting that people with close ties to the crown prince were involved in Khashoggi’s death.
In his Thursday statement, the Saudi prosecutor also said the country had detained 21 people over the killing. Riyadh said last month that it had detained 18 suspects and dismissed a top general.
That general has since been named by The New York Times as Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, who was promoted to Saudi intelligence last year.
Riyadh wants the audio of Khashoggi’s last moments
The Saudi prosecutor on Thursday added that the office had “submitted formal requests to brotherly authorities in Turkey” for evidence in Khashoggi’s death, including a purported audio recording of Khashoggi’s last moments that Turkish officials have repeatedly mentioned since last month.
The prosecutor added that Saudi Arabia was “still awaiting a response to these requests.”
Erdogan said last weekend that he “passed on” the tape to the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country’s intelligence agents heard the recording, but France said it never received it. Britain and Germany declined to comment.
CIA Director Gina Haspel reportedly heard the recording during a visit to Ankara last month but was not allowed to bring it back to the US.
The audio features Khashoggi telling his killers “I’m suffocating” and “Take this bag off my head” right before he died, a journalist with Turkey’s state-run Daily Sabah newspaper told Al Jazeera.