Manama: The Saudi cabinet has rejected the politicisation of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The cabinet, chaired by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and attended by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and government ministers, said the case had been referred by the public prosecution to the Saudi judiciary for review and for issuing verdicts.
“Such measures confirm the keenness of the state to ensure justice in accordance with our firm approach derived from the provisions of the law,” the cabinet said in a post-session statement.
This came as the Kremlin said on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet Crown Prince Mohammad on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina starting on November 30.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said America intends to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement issued by the White House, he said he would not cancel multibillion-dollar military deals with Riyadh, adding: “If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries.”
Trump said US intelligence agencies are still studying the evidence in an attempt to discover how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and who planned it.
Saudi Arabia also conducted an internal investigation, dismissed five officials and detained 21 suspects for questioning.
On Thursday, the public prosecution in its third statement on the case said it had indicted 11 suspects and that their cases would be referred to court. The investigation with the 10 remaining suspects will continue in order to determine their involvement and their role in the crime, it added.
The prosecution requested the death penalty for five suspects on charges of ordering and committing the crime.
Saudi Arabia insisted Khashoggi’s killing was a crime that should be placed in a legal framework, and not politicised.
Several countries, including Russia, hailed the Saudi measures and expressed their trust in the kingdom’s judiciary to complete the investigation and announce the results.
Calls to internationalise the issue and to put the suspects on trial in Turkey have been categorically rejected by King Salman and Saudi officials.
Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said Saudi Arabia could competently handle the case and insisted in an interview published on Tuesday that the kingdom did not investigate Khashoggi’s murder for the sake of international public opinion and that justice in the case was a Saudi demand, before it was an international one.
Al Jubeir also stressed Crown Prince Mohammad was not the “high-ranking figure” referred to in Turkish statements of having ordered the murder.
“We have asked the Turkish authorities at the highest level about who [are they accusing of having ordered the killing] ... they have categorically assured us it is not the Crown Prince,” he said.
Saudi prosecution said the decision to eliminate Khashoggi was taken and carried out by the suspects in Istanbul. They then gave false reports that the 59-year-old journalist left the consulate.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening refused to support claims that Crown Prince Mohammad was aware of the killing operation.
“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” Trump said in remarks outside the White House, though “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.”
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had “nothing definitive” on the crown prince’s involvement, and US intelligence agencies are still assessing all the information surrounding Khashoggi’s murder, he added.
“We may never know all of the facts surrounding” Khashoggi’s death, Trump said. “Our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”