Five people have been sentenced to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman(MBS) and had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States, on the basis of political asylum.
However, two top figures investigated over the killing have been exonerated, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, said on Monday, as reported by State TV.
“The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
— RT (@RT_com) December 23, 2019
Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri oversaw the Washington Post columnist’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018 and that he was advised by the royal court’s media czar Saud al-Qahtani.
When Saudis sentence five to death for Khashoggi's murder, we fear that it is a way to silence them for ever and to conceal the truth. We cannot consider death penalty helps to bring justice. We still expect a full accounting. #Khashoggi #PressFreedom
— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) December 23, 2019
However, Qahtani was investigated but not indicted “due to insufficient evidence” and Assiri was investigated and charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, the statement said.
#Khashoggi court update;
• Saudi court sentenced 5 to death, three others to be imprisoned for 24 years (preliminary not final)
• MbS associate Al Qahtani is NOT CHARGED
• Saudi Consul General in Istanbul is released
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) December 23, 2019
Of the 11 unnamed individuals indicted in the case, five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totalling 24 years, and the others were acquitted. Particularly, the Former Saudi Consul-General to Istanbul (Turkey), Mohammad al-Otaibi, was buried and declared not-guilty by the Saudi Court. Following the decision, Otaibi was released from prison.
The prosecutor said that the Riyadh court hearing the case held a total of nine sessions attended by representatives of the international community as well as Khashoggi’s relatives.
“We found that Khashoggi’s murder was not premeditated,” the statement said, therefore insinuating that there was no previous intent by those found guilty to murder. However, right after the murder took place at the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul, a body double of Khashoggi left the building wearing the victim’s clothes, giving indication of a meticulously pre-planned operation.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.