UN human rights office says Saudi Khashoggi murder trial not sufficient

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it cannot assess the fairness of a trial underway in Saudi Arabia over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, emphasizing that in any case it is “not sufficient.”

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that it has held an initial hearing into Khashoggi’s murder case, with the public prosecutor requesting the death penalty for five of the suspects.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that at the court session, which was held in Riyadh, the prosecutor demanded that “proper punishments” be imposed against the 11 defendants and that “capital punishment” sentences be handed to five of them over their direct involvement in the killing.

In response to a question about the Saudi prosecutor’s demand for the suspects’ death penalty, the OHCHR Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Friday that the office calls for an independent investigation “with international involvement.”

She also reiterated the UN rights office’s constant opposition to the death penalty.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi crown prince and a US resident, disappeared on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documentation for his forthcoming marriage.

Saudi Arabia initially claimed he had left the consulate alive, but weeks later admitted that he was killed inside the diplomatic mission and blamed his death on a group of Saudi operatives.

Turkish authorities believe that a 15-person “hit squad” was sent from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul to kill the 61-yerar-old journo.

On December 10, Turkey called for an international investigation into the case of slain Saudi dissident journalist, after Riyadh refused to extradite two senior Saudi officials suspected of planning his murder.

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