Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi killing

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Five Saudi officials face the death penalty for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not involved, the prosecutor said Thursday.

Prosecutors said the highest-level official incriminated in connection with the killing is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who was sacked as pressure from Turkey and the world mounted on Saudi Arabia.

He said the killers drugged and killed the writer inside the consulate before dismembering the body and handing it over for disposal by an unidentified local collaborator. The prosecution "demands the death penalty for those who ordered and executed the killing and they're five people", he said.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier this week that the audio recording didn't appear to implicate the crown prince. He also said the Saudi prosecutor's announcement did not reveal where Khashoggi's remains were taken.

The prosecutor says the highest-level official behind the killing is Saudi former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has been fired for ordering Mr Khashoggi's forced return.

On Thursday, the Saudi prosecutor confirmed part of the timeline Turkey has laid out, saying a 15-member team had been deployed to Turkey with orders to "bring back the victim by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force".

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But the Saudis' story shifted several times, particularly after Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Khashoggi had been "brutally murdered" in an operation that involved a team of more than a dozen Saudis who had traveled to Istanbul just before Khashoggi was killed.

Eleven out of a total of 21 people arrested in connection with Khashoggi's killing last month have been indicted, a spokesperson for the prosecution said at a press conference in the capital Riyadh.

The prosecutor added that they were "still awaiting a response to these requests".

The latest Saudi account of what happened to Khashoggi was quickly dismissed by Turkey, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calling the statements "unsatisfactory" and demanding the "real instigator" of the murder be identified.

Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since a year ago.

Saudi Arabia has asked Turkey to share the results of its investigation and recordings of the killing, and is planning to sign a "special mechanism" to ensure this happens, he said.

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