Five Saudi officials are facing the death penalty after being accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saud Al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s public prosecutor, said on Thursday that 21 people are in custody over the killing and charges have been brought against 11 of them.
But he effectively exonerated Saudi’s de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman by laying ultimate blame for Khashoggi’s killing at the feet of two lesser officials.
Al-Mojeb told reporters in Riyadh that the highest-level official implicated in Khashoggi’s killing is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who gave the order for him to be repatriated from Turkey.
He added that it was ‘the head of the negotiating team’ dispatched to seize Khashoggi who then gave the order to kill him.
A spokesman for the prosecutor later denied that Salman had any knowledge of the killing. The Crown Prince has blamed it on ‘rogue elements’ of the Saudi state.
The prosecutor added that Saudi believes Khashoggi was given a lethal injection inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
His body was then dismembered and taken out of the building, the Al-Mojeb, though admitted the kingdom does not know where the remains are now.
Investigations are ongoing to find the remains, the prosecutor insisted.