Death Sentence for Khashoggi’s Alleged Killers

Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecutor seeks death penalty for five people involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Riyadh's latest account has been dismissed as inadequate by Turkey as the US sanctions 17 Saudis it said were involved in killing.

Background

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who was a permanent resident of the United States and a columnist at the Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. He was a vocal, but not extreme, critic of Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his “oppressive regime”. The Saudi government denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s death for two weeks into the investigation, before finally admitting he was killed by several high ranking officials in the embassy in an alleged fist fight. Turkish officials claim they have evidence he was dismembered and tortured before being murdered, and Canadian President Justin Trudeau recently became the first western leader to acknowledge he had received evidence of the murder from the Turkish government.

Analysis

Saudi Arabia is seeking the death penalty for five people involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Shaalan al-Shaalan, the kingdom's deputy public prosecutor, told a news conference in Riyadh that five men ordered the drugging and dismemberment of Khashoggi after "talks with him failed" inside the country's consulate in Istanbul. He added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was not implicated in the gruesome murder that caused global outrage. He claimed that the team that killed Khashoggi had been sent to repatriate him. Al-Shalaan said that on the morning of October 2, the leader of the negotiating team saw that he would not be able to force Khashoggi to return, "so he decided to kill him in the moment.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country was not satisfied with the Saudi Attorney General's latest account of events leading up to the murder of Khashoggi.

The United States has placed economic sanctions on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder, including top aide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the international community’s unwillingness to grant impunity to the Saudi Arabian officials is likely to push the Saudi Government to implicate people higher in Prince Bin Salman’s chain of command. We believe the investigations could be deeply destabilising to the kingdom.