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Saudi Arabia: Court says killing of Jamal Khashoggi was 'not premeditated', sentences five to death

Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 by Saudi agents while at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi pictured in December 2014.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi pictured in December 2014.
Image: Hasan Jamali/PA Images

FIVE PEOPLE HAVE been sentenced to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but two top figures investigated over the killing have been exonerated, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said Monday.

“The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnès Callamard had previously reported that was “credible evidence” linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to the killing.

Responding to the news, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said it “brings neither justice nor the truth for Jamal Khashoggi and his loved ones. The trial has been closed to the public and to independent monitors, with no information available as to how the investigation was carried out”.

The verdict fails to address the Saudi authorities’ involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains.

She added that “only an international, independent and impartial investigation can serve justice for Jamal Khashoggi”.

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