Saudi Arabia sentences five to death for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing
A court in Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death for the killing of The Washington Post columnist and royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year by a team of Saudi agents.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV channel reported that three others were sentenced to prison. All can appeal the verdicts.
The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had drawn international condemnation for the killing because several Saudi agents involved worked directly for him. The kingdom denies that Prince Mohammed had any involvement or knowledge of the operation.
State TV also reported the Saudi attorney-general’s investigation showed that the crown prince’s former top adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, had no proven involvement in the killing. Al-Qahtani, however, has been sanctioned by the US for his alleged role in the operation.
The court also ruled that the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi, was not guilty. He was released from prison after the verdicts were announced, according to state TV.
After holding nine sessions, the trial concluded that there was no previous intent by those found guilty to murder, according to state TV.
The trials of the accused were carried out in near total secrecy, though a handful of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi’s family, were allowed to attend the sessions. In total, 11 people were on trial for Khashoggi’s death in the kingdom.
The verdicts were read by Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesperson from the attorney-general’s office, and broadcast on state TV. No names were given for those found guilty. The attorney-general’s office also said it is looking into the verdicts, which were issued by Riyadh’s criminal court, to see whether to move ahead in the appellate court.
The three suspects in the case who face prison time were sentenced to a total of 24 years, but no individual breakdown for each person was given. Another three who were on trial were released after being found not guilty, and several others who were investigated were also released.
The killing had shocked the world and drawn condemnation from the international community, including the United Nations.
Khashoggi had walked into his country’s consulate in Istanbul on that morning in October 2018 to collect documents that would allow him to wed his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside.
He never walked out and his body was never found.