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Businessinsider - 24 days ago

Crown Prince Mohammed comes out on top of Khashoggi case that could see 5 others killed

Saudi officials on Thursday claimed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was innocent in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, and said it requested the death penalty of five people over the killing. Experts from government officials, country experts, and Khashoggi s editor rebuked those claims of innocence. But Saudi Arabia s exoneration might work anyway, as the kingdom has deep business ties that few seem to want to break over Khashoggi s killings. Top Saudi officials attempted to clear their crown prince from journalist Jamal Khashoggi s killing on Thursday by claiming that he had no knowledge of it. Experts called the claims ludicrous, but Riyadh s exoneration will probably help to turn the page on the Khashoggi crisis, keep Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in power, and keep investments rolling in anyway. Saudi officials: Our absolute monarch is absolutely innocent The Saudi Public Prosecutor s office on Thursday said it indicted 11 suspects over Khashoggi s killing and requested the death penalty for five of them, who were charged with ordering and committing the crime. It added that Saudi agents originally wanted to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia alive, but killed him after negotiations for the journalist s return failed. Read more: Saudi prosecutor claims Crown Prince Mohammed innocent, seeks death for 5 others in Khashoggi killing A spokesman for the prosecutor added that Crown Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the killing, according to Agence France-Presse. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, echoed that claim, telling a separate press conference on Thursday: Absolutely, his royal highness the crown prince has nothing to do with this issue. He added that sometimes people exceed their authority, suggesting that the people who killed Khashoggi acted without the crown prince s approval. Crown Prince Mohammed functions as an absolute monarch in Saudi Arabia with control over courts and legislation. Saudi courts likely did not have free reign to examine increasing evidence that suggested people with close ties to the crown prince were involved in Khashoggi s death. Read more: US intelligence reportedly thinks Khashoggi s killers informed Saudi s crown prince once the deed was done So ludicrous I don t even know where to start Numerous experts including government officials, country experts, and Khashoggi s editor sharply rebuked Saudi s latest claims. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey s foreign minister, said that the Saudi prosecutor s Thursday statement was not satisfactory and called for the real perpetrators need to be revealed suggesting that the suspects indicted in the case were acting on someone else s orders. Turkey conducted the only investigation of the consulate not controlled by the Saudi monarchy. Earlier this month Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused the highest levels of the Saudi leadership of being behind the killing heavily pointing fingers at, but without naming, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Robert Jordan, the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, also doubted Riyadh s claims that the kingdom s agents only wanted to negotiate with Khashoggi, telling CNN: You don t bring a bone saw to a negotiation. Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent and terrorism expert, tweeted: The aim of this Saudi investigation is to protect MBS the real subject by finding sacrificial lambs to blame. Karen Attiah, Khashoggi s editor at The Washington Post, refuted the Saudi exonerations of the crown prince. The CIA intercepted Saudi officials discussing a plan ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed himself to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him there, she tweeted, citing a Washington Post article that published last month. Iyad el-Baghdadi, the president of the Kawaakibi Foundation think tank, described Saudi Arabia s claims that Crown Prince Mohammed didn t know anything about the killing as ludicrous. He tweeted: The very suggestion that a hand-picked team of Saudi killers could be put together, given resources, then a kill plan devised and implemented to kill the most prominent non-royal Saudi on the planet, all without MBS s knowledge = so ludicrous I don t even know where to start. Read more: How the Saudi government s story on Khashoggi has shifted over time Why ludicrous might be good enough The kingdom likely issued the indictments to give off an impression to the international community that it still cared about the case, and to encourage international businesses to continue investing in Saudi Arabia, said HA Hellyer, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London. The attention of the international community cannot be held forever by this case, and Riyadh is obviously trying to ensure that the perception accountability for Khashoggi s murder is being pursued, Hellyer told Business Insider. That s important to give cover to those in the international community especially in the business community to continue to engage on a financial level with Riyadh, he added. Multiple businesses have come under pressure to cut ties with the kingdom, but few have taken proper action. Saudi Arabia has lucrative deals around the world, particularly in US tech and military. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted a $110 billion arms deal he negotiated with the kingdom last year, and refused to cancel those contracts over Khashoggi s killing. Uber s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, said on Wednesday he was anxious for more details about Khashoggi s death, but said the kingdom still deserved a seat on its board until we get the facts and understand exactly what happens. The tech company has taken $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia s Public Investment Fund, and its biggest shareholder is SoftBank, whose Vision Fund is also backed by Saudi Arabia. Within the kingdom, where Crown Prince Mohammed developed multiple social and economic reforms named Vision 2030 Khashoggi s death is less of an issue, Hellyer said, as it seems clear the king wants to keep the crown prince in place, and that s what matters. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that people in Saudi Arabia rural areas described Khashoggi s death as a tragedy, but far from their daily lives. Many of those who had heard about the case refused to believe the crown prince was involved.Join the conversation about this story NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: I regret a lot of the controversial stuff I ve said on live television

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