Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Saudi diplomat says prince not linked to murder

Saudi diplomat says prince not linked to murder

The Trump administration has sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the first economic penalties from the US over the brutal murder that has spawned a diplomatic crisis.

Saudi Arabia's Attorney General has said the kingdom is seeking the death penalty for five people involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The journalist's body parts were then handed over to an agent outside the consulate grounds, the prosecutor's spokesman said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman won support on Tuesday from U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said he did not think recordings of the killing shared by Turkey implicated the country's de facto ruler.

The "boss" here is believed to Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he known.

'This operation was coordinated and executed by his subordinate Maher Mutreb, and involved participation of at least 14 other Saudi government officials: Salah Tubaigy; Meshal Albostani; Naif Alarifi; Mohammed Alzahrani; Mansour Abahussain; Khalid Alotaibi; Abdulaziz Alhawsawi; Waleed Alsehri; Thaar Alharbi; Fahad Albalawi; Badr Alotaibi; Mustafa Almadani; Saif Alqahtani; and Turki Alsehri.

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Some details provided on Thursday again contradicted previous versions, none of which mentioned a drug-induced death and one of which called the killing premeditated based on information provided by Turkey.

Turkey's foreign minister says the announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor on recommending the death penalty for five suspects in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi falls short of Turkey's expectations.

Saudi-US relations have been rocked amid the crisis over Khashoggi's killing, as politicians from both major US parties quickly denounced Saudi Arabia and called for Washington to rethink its relationship with Riyadh altogether.

Read the full Saudi government statement here.

His disappearance was initially shrouded in mystery, and triggered an global crisis for both Riyadh and Washington as Turkish officials accused Saudi Arabia of a state-sponsored killing.

The prosecutor's version of events hewed closely to a Saudi statement last month saying that the agents had been ordered only to persuade, or if necessary to force, the return to Saudi Arabia of Khashoggi, a United States resident and contributing columnist for The Washington Post who has written critically of the ruling monarchy.

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His comments come as Ankara has repeatedly urged Riyadh to explain who had given the order for killing Khashoggi, and where his body is.

The official said it was the head of the squad, sent to Turkey, who ordered Khashoggi's killing after having failed to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

It was the first Saudi confirmation of how the journalist died, but the prosecutor's spokesperson Shaalan al Shaalan denied the Saudi crown prince had any knowledge of the killing.

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

Salah Khashoggi, the journalist's eldest son, announced a mourning period during which the family would accept condolences in the Saudi city of Jiddah. The Saudis do not have rogue operations. While branding the murder and subsequent attempt to hide it "the worst cover up ever", the USA president has repeatedly highlighted the importance of Washington's economic ties with Riyadh, including billions of dollars worth of arms deals.

Asked about possible worldwide sanctions in response to the case, Jubeir said there was a difference between sanctioning individuals and holding the Saudi government responsible.

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Al-Mojeb also said 21 suspects are now in custody - representing a remarkable turnabout from the country's initial denials of any involvement.

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