Saudi Arabia‘s foreign minister has insisted the Kingdom’s crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, took “absolutely” no part in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The comments came hours after the country’s top prosecutor announced he would see the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects indicted in the killing.
“Absolutely, his royal highness the crown prince has nothing to do with this issue,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters at a press conference in Riyadh, the Associated Press reported.
“Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes people exceed their authority,” al-Jubeir said, adding that the kingdom is now focused on ensuring such an operation does not happen again.
Al-Jubeir spoke just hours after Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, announced he was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the murder of Khashoggi. Ten other people remain in custody but have not yet been charged, al-Mojeb said.
The suspects had allegedly set in motion plans for Khashoggi’s murder on Sept. 29, three days before he was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, al-Mojeb said during a televised press conference in Riyadh.
Khashoggi was a high-profile critic of Saudi policy and especially of the Kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi had an appointment at the consulate on Oct. 2 to apply for paperwork that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée.
There was a struggle, during which Khashoggi was killed by lethal injection, the attorney general said, and his body was later cut up and taken out of the building.
The journalist’s remains were then taken by someone outside the consulate grounds, the attorney general said. The outside collaborator and the location of Khashoggi’s body remain unknown, al-Mojeb added.
The highest-level official accused of being behind the killing is Saudi former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, a close advisor to bin Salman, according to al-Mojeb. Al-Assiri was fired for ordering Khashoggi’s forced return to the kingdom, the attorney general said.
The prosecutor said 21 people are now in custody, of which 11 had been indicted and referred to trial.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the Saudi attorney general’s actions fall short of Ankara’s expectations, according to the Associated Press.
Cavusoglu also insisted that the suspects detained in Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing should be put on trial in Turkey, according to the AP, and that Riyadh should reveal who ordered the killing.
“I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory,” Cavusoglu said, according to the AP, adding that “those who gave the order, the real perpetrators, need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way.