RIYADH • Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a case that has strained the kingdom's ties with key Western allies, his office said yesterday.
Mr Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policy, was killed in the country's Istanbul consulate on Oct 2 by a lethal injection dose, and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, said deputy public prosecutor and spokesman Shaalan al-Shaalan.
He said the Washington Post columnist was murdered after "negotiations" for his return to the kingdom failed and that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiating team sent to repatriate Mr Khashoggi.
The whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi's body remain unknown, Mr Shaalan said.
Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for Mr Khashoggi's disappearance before saying he was killed in a rogue operation. The case has sparked a global outcry, opened the kingdom to possible sanctions and tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkish officials have accused Prince Mohammed of ordering the murder, while President Tayyip Erdogan said the killing was ordered at the "highest levels" of the Saudi government.
US President Donald Trump has suggested ultimate responsibility lies with the Prince as de facto ruler.
"The public prosecutor has requested the death penalty for five individuals who are charged with ordering and committing the crime and for appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals," Mr Shaalan said, without naming them.
He said 11 out of 21 suspects have been indicted and their cases will be referred to court, while the investigation with the remaining suspects will continue in order to determine their role in the crime.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said yesterday that these measures were "positive, but insufficient" and Turkey was "not satisfied".
A travel ban has been imposed on a top aide to the Crown Prince, Mr Saud al-Qahtani, while investigations continue over his role, Mr Shaalan said. Mr Qahtani has been fired from the royal court.