Five Saudi officials face death penalty for Khashoggi murder

Marsha Scott
November 16, 2018

The U.S. sanctions were announced a few hours after Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said the death penalty was being sought for five out of 11 suspects charged in Khashoggi's murder, as the kingdom tries to contain its biggest political crisis in a generation.

The Trump administration on Thursday slapped sanctions against 17 Saudis accused of involvement in the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi - including top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi prosecutors said Thursday they would seek the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Among the differences between the USA and Saudi statements on Thursday (Friday NZ time), Treasury's account appeared to indicate a planned killing, while the Saudi prosecutor said the decision to kill Khashoggi was made on site by a minor official, presumably one of the agents who had been sent to bring him back to Saudi Arabia.

Among the officials sanctioned by the US was Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before King Salman removed him after the killing.

Following the imposition of sanctions, 'any property or interests in property of the individuals designated today within or transiting USA jurisdiction is blocked.

"The way Saudi Arabia is run today, Mohammed bin Salman is an autocrat", Baer stressed.

Asked if Prince Mohammed played a role in the murder, he said: "He did not have any knowledge".

With the kingdom facing mounting worldwide pressure, prosecutors have pointed the finger at some members of the crown prince's inner circle but stopped short of accusing them of ordering Khashoggi's killing.

Turkey says the Saudi critic was strangled and his body dismembered for secret disposal; the Saudi prosecutor says a "forensics expert" had been part of the team - but only "in the case force had to be used to return the victim". "This operation was coordinated and executed by his subordinate Maher Mutreb, and involved participation of at least 14 other Saudi government officials".

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He also rejected Turkey's demand for an worldwide inquiry into the murder, saying Riyadh had its own "investigative body" and would "reject" an independent investigation into the killing.

The latest Saudi account failed to appease officials in Turkey, who insist the killing and its coverup were carried out by the highest levels of government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said the order to murder Khashoggi came from the upper echelons of the Saudi government.

Officials from the kingdom first rejected the now-validated claim that Khashoggi never left the consulate alive.

Salah Khashoggi, the journalist's eldest son, announced a mourning period during which the family would accept condolences in the Saudi city of Jiddah.

An adviser to Erdogan accused Riyadh of trying to cover up the murder.

Mnuchin had previously told reporters it would be "premature" to discuss whether the U.S. would impose sanctions on the Saudi government.

Six weeks after the murder, Turkey is trying to maintain pressure on Prince Mohammed, releasing a stream of evidence that undermined Riyadh's early denials.

"Sometimes mistakes happen. sometimes people exceed their authority", he said, adding that the kingdom is now focused on ensuring such an operation does not happen again.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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