Saudi Arabian court holds first session in Khashoggi murder case

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 03.01.2019 12:57
Updated 03.01.2019 16:53
This file photo shows people holding pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey Nov. 16, 2018. (Reuters Photo)
This file photo shows people holding pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey Nov. 16, 2018. (Reuters Photo)

Saudi Arabia's attorney general sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday.

All 11 accused were present with their lawyers at the opening hearing in the capital, according to a statement by Attorney General Saud al-Mujeb carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It added that the prosecution demanded death sentences for five suspects, adding that the interrogation of the suspects continues.

The statement said that the Saudi Arabian authorities sent two requests to Ankara asking for evidence related to the murder, but without response.

Turkish officials have previously said they shared evidence with Saudi Arabia and other nations over Khashoggi's killing, and repeatedly called for the suspects to be extradited to Turkey, where the crime was committed.

The bill of indictment against the accused was read out at the procedural session. The defendants who are in custody asked for time to examine the charges leveled against them, according to the statement. No date has been set for the next hearing.

Khashoggi, an occasional contributor to The Washington Post, had written columns critical of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

The kingdom initially denied Khashoggi was killed. After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged weeks later that he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.

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

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror revealed that the British government tried to pursue arms deals with Saudi Arabia weeks after the crime by having high-level meetings with Saudi trade officials, despite condemning the murder.

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