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Prosecutor:Death Penalty in Killing    11/15 06:16

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor announced 
Thursday he's recommended the death penalty for five suspects charged with 
ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the 
kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

   The announcement by the kingdom's top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, appears 
aimed at distancing the killers and their operation from Crown Prince Mohammed 
bin Salman, whose decision-making powers have placed in the center of global 
outcry over the killing. The announcement was published in a statement carried 
by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

   The brutal death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been 
critical of the crown prince, has shocked the world and led many analysts and 
officials to believe it could not have been carried out without the prince's 
knowledge.

   Turkey says an assassination squad was sent from Riyadh for the writer and 
insists the orders for the killing came from the highest levels of the Saudi 
government, but not King Salman.

   After issuing the statement, the spokesman for al-Mojeb's office, Shalan 
al-Shalan, told a rare press conference Thursday in Riyadh that Khashoggi's 
killers had set in motion plans for the killing on Sept. 29 --- three days 
before his slaying in Istanbul. He says 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.

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

   Al-Assiri, a close confidant of Prince Mohammed, is facing charges that 
include ordering Khashoggi's forced return to Saudi Arabia.

   Saudi prosectuors said al-Assiri deemed Khashoggi a threat because of his 
work as a writer and because he was allegedly backed by groups and countries 
that are hostile to Saudi Arabia.

   However, it appears al-Mojeb has stopped short of accusing al-Assiri of 
ordering the killing itself --- further distancing the killers from the crown 
prince's inner circle.

   Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile abroad for nearly a year 
before he was killed by Saudi agents at the consulate on Oct. 2. In his 
writing, he was especially critical of the crown prince, who'd been leading a 
wide-reaching crackdown on activists and critics inside the kingdom since last 
year.

   The kingdom also confirmed Turkish claims that a 15-man hit squad was sent 
to Turkey, and that these agents killed Khashoggi.

   The writer's body has not been found. Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in 
Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. His Turkish fiancee 
waited outside and first raised the alarm about his disappearance.

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


(KA)

 
 
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