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Saudi prosecutors to seek death penalties in Khashoggi murder case

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- Saudi prosecutors will seek the death penalty for at least five people in the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom's state media reported on Thursday as 11 suspects attended their first court hearing. The state-run Saudi Press Agency and state television gave few details about the hearing and did not name the suspects. However, a statement from prosecutors said the suspects attended the hearing with their lawyers.

The statement also said that prosecutors sent a request to Turkey for evidence that Ankara has collected over the Oct. 2 slaying of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

"No response has been received to date and the Public Prosecutor's Office is still waiting for an answer," the statement said.

Officials in Turkey could not be immediately reached for comment. Turkish officials have previously said they shared evidence with Saudi Arabia and other nations over Khashoggi's killing.

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Khashoggi had written columns critical of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The kingdom initially denied Khashoggi was killed, but changed its story and acknowledged his slaying weeks later. 

The royal family continues to deny that any senior members -- most notably the crown prince or his father King Salman -- had knowledge of the operation to kill Khashoggi. 

While President Donald Trump has declined to pin the murder on anyone higher up than the suspects named by Saudi Arabia, the CIA has intelligence which substantiates an assessment that the crown prince himself ordered the killing.

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Mr. Trump's decision not to reprimand the Saudi leadership over the U.S.-based journalist's killing prompted significant backlash in Washington for the Senate to pass bi-partisan measures blaming Crown Prince Salman for the crime and calling on the president to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Turkish media has published pictures of members of the crown prince's entourage at the consulate ahead of the slaying. Khashoggi's body, believed to have been dismembered after his killing, has yet to be found.