Trial starts for 11 Saudis accused of Khashoggi slaying

Hearing for those accused of planning the murder of journalist begins. Five of the defendants face the death penalty.

Tzvi Lev ,

Friends of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold his pictures during protest
Friends of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold his pictures during protest

The trial for 11 defendants accused of planning the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi began on Thursday in Riyadh.

Prosecutors have asked that five of the accused receive the death penalty. Following the trial, attorneys for the defendants asked for more time to review the indictment. The date for the next hearing has not been published.

The 11 defendants are accused by Saudi Arabia of murdering dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and chopping his body into pieces.

The Turkish prosecutor’s office has concluded there was “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s October 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

After initially denying Turkish claims that Khashoggi was murdered, Saudi Arabia later admitted that he was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul. At the same time, the Saudi leadership claimed Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” operation and denies any connection to the murder.

Then- Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir insisted two months ago the kingdom did not know where Khashoggi’s body was and termed the killing a "tremendous mistake".

In December, the US Treasury sanctioned 17 Saudis for their role in Khashoggi’s murder. Some US lawmakers, however, have called for a stronger US response to Khashoggi's murder.