Saudi royal adviser missing in Khashoggi trial: officials

Royal court ex-adviser Qahtani, who is allegedly involved in Khashoggi’s killing, not present at trials, officials say.

An official says Qahtani's no-show might mean the Saudis want protect him [Al Jazeera]
An official says Qahtani’s no-show might mean the Saudis want protect him [Al Jazeera]

One of the two top Saudi royal officials linked to journalist Jamal Khashoggi‘s killing has been absent in the closed-door trial of 11 suspects, multiple sources have told the AFP news agency.

Saudi prosecutors have said that deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri oversaw the Washington Post columnist’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October and that he was advised by the royal court’s media tsar Saud al-Qahtani.

Both aides were part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s tight-knit inner circle and have formally been sacked over the killing but only al-Asiri has appeared in the five court hearings since January, according to four Western officials privy to the information.

“Qahtani is not among the 11 facing trial,” one of the Western officials told AFP. “What does his absence mean? Are the Saudis eager to protect him or discipline him separately? No one knows.”

The kingdom’s public prosecutor last November indicted 11 unnamed suspects, including five who could face the death penalty over the murder.


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