Five of the Eleven defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,might be facing death penalties as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday.
The prosecution also said it was awaiting a response to two formal letters requesting evidence from Turkey, where Khashoggi was murdered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2 in a case that shocked the world.
All 11 accused were present with their lawyers at the first session of the trial, it said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, without revealing their names or their alleged roles in the crime.
The Statement read, “The public prosecutor… is seeking capital punishment for five of the defendants for their direct involvement in the murder.”
Five top Saudi officials — including royal court insider Saud al-Qahtani — have been sacked over Khashoggi’s murder, but authorities have not said if they were among those charged.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnishing the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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 media reports suggested his remains, which have never been found, were dissolved in acid.