Saudi Arabia’s attorney general sought the death sentence for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday. All 11 accused were present with their lawyers at the opening hearing in the capital, according to a statement by the attorney general carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Saudi Arabia had twice submitted formal requests for evidence from Turkey where Khashoggi was murdered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate but had received no response.
Names of the defendants have not been officially released. Five top officials in Saudi Arabia including royal court insider Saud al-Qahtani were sacked over the Khashoggi murder, but there is no proof that they are among those charged.
The 59-year-old Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, was murdered on October 2 in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation. He was strangled, his body cut into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials. There have been reports that his remains, which have never been found, were dissolved in acid.