Saudi prosecutor seeks death sentences as Khashoggi murder trial opens

Netflix has dropped an episode of a program critical of Saudi Arabia by comedian Hasan Minhaj after officials in the kingdom complained

Netflix has dropped an episode of a program critical of Saudi Arabia by comedian Hasan Minhaj after officials in the kingdom complained

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia's Public Prosecutors demanded capital punishment against five out of 11 suspects over the killing of Khashoggi, Saudi Press Agency reported. The public prosecutor has requested the death penalty for five of the suspects.

The statement also said that prosecutors had asked Turkey to send the evidence it had collected while investigating Khashoggi's murder.

Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 past year, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises.

Hasan Minhaj criticised Saudi Arabia on his show, accusing it of covering up the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to protect Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"This is why a UN-led and independent investigation is needed into the murder".

The streaming giant said it was required to take down the episode after Saudi authorities said it violated the country's cybercrime statute.

In the episode, Minhaj mocked Saudi Arabia's changing account of Khashoggi's death and said it was created to protect Crown Prince Mohammed's global reputation as a "reformer".

The US Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered Khashoggi's murder. No date has been set for the next hearing.

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A full translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi's murder has showed that the killing was pre-planned, refuting Riyadh's claims.

"WeWork won't let you expense meat", Minhaj remarked about the startup going vegetarian over environmental concerns, "but you take money from Saudi Arabia?"

The conflict - which has claimed the lives of over 60,000, brought millions to the brink of starvation, and triggered a massive cholera outbreak - has been repeatedly called the "world's worst humanitarian crisis" by the United Nations and other human rights watchdogs.

The prosecutor's office said ten other suspects were still under investigation.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Saudi cyber-crime law states that "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers" is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine, according to rights group Amnesty International. But in November the Saudi attorney general ruled out any involvement by the young crown prince. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Khashoggi's murder reached the top levels of the Saudi government.

The trial will be more for domestic consumption, allowing officials to say something has been done, said David Roberts, an assistant professor at King's College London who studies the Gulf.

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