Two top Saudi royal mentors have been involved in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. One has been marked the “ringleader” but queries are whirling over the absence of the other in the closed-door trial of 11 suspects, informed by multiple sources. Saudi prosecutors have told deputy intelligence Chief Ahmed Al-Assiri overlooked the brutal killing of the Washington Post columnist’s killing in the consulate of Kingdom in Istanbul last October and that he was recommended by the media of royal court czar Saud-Al-Qahtani.

Both assistants were part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s tight-knit internal circle and have officially been dismissed over the murder but only Assiri has presented in the five court hearings since January, as per four western officials personally to the information.

He added, “What does his absence mean? Are the Saudis keen to protect him or discipline him separately? No one knows. ” The public prosecutor in the last November summoned 11 unnamed suspects, along with five who could confront the death-penalty over the murder.

Diplomats among the permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, China, Russia, and France –  as well as Turkey are permitted to visit as observers of the legal proceedings which are organized totally in Arabia.

They are not permitted to involve translators and are usually invited at short notice, according to the sources. A representative of the Khashoggi family – which this month negotiated reports of a resolution with the Saudi government  – has visited at least one court session, according to them.

An intelligence operative, Maher Mutreb who frequently visited with the Crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert Salah Al-Tubaigy and Fahad-Al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi Royal guard, are among the 11 on trial who could confront the death penalty, according to the officials.

Many of them safeguarded themselves in court by claiming they were following the orders by Assiri, stating him as the “ ringleader” of the operation, according to the personnel. The media ministry of the kingdom did not reply to the request of AFP for the comment. The lawyers of the defendant could not have arrived.

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