Saudi Arabia: Royal Court Adviser fired over Khashoggi killing

Saud al-Qahtani, who is a top aide of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has been sacked over the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but is not on trial along with the 11 suspects at secretive hearings in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has vowed to bring those responsible for the killing to justice.

11 unnamed suspects have been indicted by the Saudi Public Prosecutor which also include the five who face death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime. Many Western countries and even the CIA believe that the killing which took place at the Saudi Consulate at Istanbul, Turkey last October, was ordered by the Crown Prince himself.

Qahtani has not been on trial and has also not appeared at any of the four court sessions which have been convened since January. Qahtani is alleged to have overseen the murder of Khashoggi and even dismemberment by passing orders to a team of both intelligence and security officers through Skype.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor has also stated that both Qahtani and a Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed al-Asiri had coordinated for the murder. Asiri had earlier ordered for the repatriation of Khashoggi who was serving as a journalist for the Washington Post and had become a vocal critic of the policies of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman as he had worked as a royal insider for many years. The prosecutor had stated that Qahtani had met all the operatives who have charged with the repatriation of Khashoggi before they were to go to Istanbul. It was only when Khashoggi had resisted on going back, the lead negotiator took the decision to kill him. Asiri is said to be on trial as well. It is learnt that Maher Mutreb who was the lead negotiator and Salah al-Tubaigy, who was an expert of autopsies are also facing trial and can also get death penalties. The sources have also said that all the defendants also have a legal counsel and have stated in their defence that they had no intentions to kill Khashoggi and were only carrying out the orders as given to them.

As per the government media, both Asiri and Qahtani have turned down all requests for comments on the status of the trial. The Saudi Arabia is trying to push from the global outcry which was triggered by the Khashoggi murder. The incident had led to a global outcry for justice and had severely hit the image of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Once again, the human rights record of the country came under scan.

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