Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 defendants in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The news was announced today in a statement released by the official Saudi Press which confirmed Riyadh's intent in November to seek the death penalty for some of the defendants.
The statement by the Public Prosecutor revealed that the Criminal Court held an initial hearing for the "11 individuals indicted in the case of the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi".
The statement said: "The Public Prosecutor demanded imposing proper punishments against the defendants and is seeking capital punishment for five of the defendants for their direct involvement in the murder."
Names and details of the suspects were not mentioned in the statement; however it confirmed that the suspects attended the hearing with their lawyers. During the initial hearing, the defendants requested a copy of the indictment and additional time to respond. The statement confirmed that the request was granted, while the "Public Prosecutor continues to investigate the case with the rest of the individuals in custody in relation to this crime".
The statement added details of its contact with Turkish authorities over the killing saying that prosecutors sent a request to Turkey for evidence that Ankara has collected following the 2 October murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
"To date, the Saudi Public Prosecutor has not received any response, and the Public Prosecution is still awaiting their response," the statement said.
While this has not been confirmed by officials in Turkey, Ankara has previously said that it shared evidence with Saudi Arabia and other nations over Khashoggi's killing.
In November the Public Prosecutor Saud Al-Mojeb revealed that a total of 21 people were in custody as a result of Khashoggi's murder, but added that Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman was not implicated in the gruesome attack on the Washington Post journalist.