Saudi prosecutor calls for death penalty for Khashoggi killers

Suspects in Khashoggi's killing brought before Saudi court

Saudi prosecution demands 5 defendants be executed for Jamal Khashoggi murder

RIYADH: Saudi prosecutors 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.

The suspects, who have not been formally named, were indicted in November when the kingdom announced that it would be pursuing the case in its own legal system.

"To date, the Saudi Public Prosecutor has not received any response, and the Public Prosecution is still awaiting their response", the statement said. However, a statement from prosecutors said the suspects attended the hearing with their lawyers.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor said Turkey has yet to respond to requests to release specific evidence in the case.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, asked about reports that a Saudi prosecutor had sought the death sentence for five suspects linked to the October 2 killing, reiterated the office's call for an independent investigation "with global involvement".

Earlier this week, Turkish media published video footage showing the transfer of several suitcases and plastic bags from the Saudi consulate to the Saudi consul's residence. They alleged that Turkish officials did not answer two formal requests made for evidence in the case. Saudi Arabia previously said it had arrested 18 people in relation to Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Arabia initially denied Khashoggi had been killed at its consulate, but the kingdom later backpedaled on its story after facing worldwide backlash.

The kingdom initially denied Mr Khashoggi was murdered but - under increasing worldwide condemnation - later changed its story and admitted the 59-year-old was killed as part of a "rogue operation".

The Saudis had presented shifting accounts about the journalist's fate, initially denying any knowledge before arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's inner circle, were responsible for Khashoggi's death.

The Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had given orders to restructure the intelligence authority.

For decades he was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government. 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.

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

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