RIYADH: The incoming consul general of Sri Lanka has pledged to take the Saudi Arabia-Sri Lanka relations to greater heights and is upbeat about taking charge at a time when the Haj season is around the corner. Faizer Mackeen performed the umrah with his family as soon as he arrived in the Kingdom on Sunday, before taking over office in Jeddah the following day. Mackeen succeeds former diplomat Adam Bawa Uthumalebbe, who left the Kingdom a year ago on completion of his tenure . Speaking to Arab News, the diplomat said he considers it a great opportunity to serve his motherland from the holy land. Mackeen said his main mission is to lift the image of his country in the Kingdom and explore new areas of cooperation in trade and investment. “I have come at the right time when the Haj season is about to begin. This year, a quota of 2,240 pilgrims has been allowed from Colombo. We have made a special request to Saudi Arabia to increase the Haj quota,” he said. There are some 97 Haj operators in the country, he said, pointing out that some 60,000 Umrah pilgrims come here through a network of 140 Umrah operators. The diplomat also highlighted that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a tourist destination for tourists from the Middle East, with the highest number from the Kingdom. He said that a good number of Lankan Muslims are currently studying in various universities in the Kingdom, which has been providing soft loans as and when required by the country. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah offers scholarships to outstanding students to pursue higher studies in engineering, medicine, dentistry, agriculture and ITC in the universities in Sri Lanka. Addressing his staff members at the consulate, Mackeen called for their cooperation to carry out his tasks successfully. He told them that as public servants, each one of them is duty bound to serve their countrymen working in the western province.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor seeks death penalty for 5 Khashoggi suspects
Investigation says Khashoggi’s body parts were handed over to a local Turkish agent outside the consulate
Decision to kill the journalist taken by negotiation team tasked with persuading him to return to the Kingdom
Updated 15 November 2018
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed in the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2 by a lethal injection after a struggle, and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, Shalaan Al-Shalaan, deputy public prosecutor and spokesman, told reporters in Riyadh on Thursday.
Khashoggi’s body parts were then handed over to a local Turkish agent outside the consulate grounds, the spokesman said as he outlined the public prosecutor’s findings in the investigation.
He added that a sketch of the agent has been prepared and will be handed over to the Turkish authorities.
He said the head of Khashoggi’s negotiation team was the one who ordered the killing of the victim, adding that investigations into the whereabouts of the Saudi journalist’s body are ongoing.
He said the mission of the team was to persuade Khashoggi, who had been living in the US, to return to the Kingdom. The decision to kill him was taken on the day in Istanbul and after the head of negotiations visited the consulate and realized it was impossible to bring Khashoggi out alive if he refused to cooperate.
In response to question by a Bloomberg correspondent, Al-Shalaan said the Saudi leadership did not have any involvement or knowledge of the order to kill Khashoggi.
The prosecutor said a former advisor had met the team that was ordered to repatriate Khashoggi.
The advisor, believed to be the former Royal Court advisor Saud Qahtani, has been banned from traveling and remains under investigation, Al-Shalaan said. The case has been transferred to court while investigations continue.
Saudi Arabia has requested Turkey sign a cooperation deal on a probe into the murder.
“We have requested the brotherly Turkish authorities to sign a special cooperation mechanism specific to this case in order to provide them with the results of the investigation,” Al-Shalaan said, adding that “the public prosecutor is still awaiting a response to these requests.”
He said the incident started on Sept. 29 “upon the issuance of an order to bring back the victim to the Kingdom by means of persuasion, if not, by force.”
The order was issued by the former deputy president of the General Intelligence Presidency Ahmad Assiri to the mission commander.
The mission commander formed a 15-member team that included three groups — negotiations, intelligence and logistics — to persuade Khashoggi to return to the Kingdom.
Assiri asked Qahtani to advise the negotiations group in the team because of his previous relationship with Khashoggi.
Qahtani believed Khashoggi had fallen under the influence of foreign groups and countries hostile to Saudi Arabia and that his presence outside the Kingdom was a threat to national security. He encouraged the team to persuade Khashoggi to return, Al-Shalaan said.
The prosecution said the mission commander contacted a forensics expert to join the team to clear any evidence from the scene “in the case force had to be used to return the victim.”
Al-Shalaan said the forensics expert joined the team without the knowledge of his superiors.
“The investigation has concluded that the crime was carried out after a physical altercation with the victim took place,” Al-Shalaan said. “He was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a certain drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.”
“The investigation has identified those that ordered and carried out the murder, totaling five individuals that have confessed to the murder.”
The five have not been named as per standard Saudi legal procedures.
The investigation has also identified five people who removed Khashoggi’s body from the consulate building and two people who disposed of his clothes and belongings, including his watch and glasses.
The prosecution found surveillance cameras inside the consulate had been disabled, and they had identified the individual responsible.
After the killing, the mission commander wrote a false report to Assiri that Khashoggi had left the consulate building after they had failed to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia.