Saudi Arabia holds secret court session for Khashoggi murder suspects

Clay Curtis
January 4, 2019

In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the prosecutor said the 11 suspects faced their first hearing in Riyadh's criminal court, attended by their defence attorneys. The public prosecutor has requested the death penalty for five of the accused, who were not identified in accordance with Saudi law. The brief statement did not name the suspects.

Saudi state media reported prosecutors will seek the death penalty for at least five of 11 suspects after they attended their first court hearing.

Mr Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 when he went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey alongside fiancee Hatice Cengiz to obtain divorce papers from his previous marriage so he could remarry.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has said Khashoggi's alleged killers planned his death three days in advance.

The 59-year-old Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials.

Turkish officials have previously said they shared evidence with Riyadh and other nations related to the crime.

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

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Turkish media have published photographs of members of the crown prince's entourage at the consulate in Istanbul ahead of the slaying. Khashoggi's body, believed to have been dismembered after his killing, has yet to be found.

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.

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.

In the face of new details being regularly leaked, Riyadh was forced to change its position several times, yet has always insisted that its crown prince was unaware of the operation and its botched cover-up. (EPA) Since his death, Jamal Khashoggi was named by TIME magazine as one of their coveted Persons of the Year for 2018. The Senate also passed a resolution meant to hold Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, NPR's Bill Chappell reports.

Senators also passed a separate measure calling for the end of United States aid to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

TRT World's Editor-at-Large Ahmet Alioglu brings more from outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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