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Khashoggi murder not ordered by crown prince - Saudi prosecutor

15 November 2018

Five Saudi officials face the death penalty over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was drugged and dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, Riyadh's public prosecutor said Thursday, November 15.

The Saudi prosecutor said Khashoggi was killed by the injection of a "large dose" of an anesthetic drug after a fight that ended with him being restrained.

According to the prosecution, Khashoggi's body had been dismembered after his murder, moved outside the consulate and handed over to a local collaborator.

But he effectively exonerated Saudi's de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman by laying ultimate blame for Khashoggi's killing at the feet of two lesser officials.

The whereabouts of Khashoggi's body are not known, Shaalan added.

The prosecutor says 21 people are now in custody, with 11 indicted and referred to trial.

Thursday's announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, centre, appears aimed at distancing the killers and their operation from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The adviser believed that Khashoggi had been co-opted by organizations and countries hostile to the kingdom "and his presence overseas represented a danger to national security", the prosecutor said.

After weeks of denials and under growing global pressure, Saudi Arabia finally admitted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a premeditated murder.

"The secretary emphasised that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

They were divided into three groups, the the prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

The spokesperson also said that a team had been formed on the orders of the former deputy intelligence chief to return Khashoggi's body, Al-Arabiya reported.

That general has since been named by The New York Times as Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, who was promoted to Saudi intelligence previous year.

A prosecutor today said that Salman had not been implicated in the murder.

Turkish officials have accused Prince Mohammed of ordering the murder while President Erdogan said the killing was ordered at the "highest levels" of the Saudi government.

CIA Director Gina Haspel reportedly heard the recording during a visit to Ankara last month, but was not allowed to bring it back to the US.

The days after Khashoggi's murder were marked by shifting statements from the Saudis.

Khashoggi murder not ordered by crown prince - Saudi prosecutor