Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Monday that five people had been sentenced to death over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Istanbul in October last year while two top figures investigated into the killing have been exonerated, Al Jazeera reported.
“The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing,” the prosecutor, Shalaan al-Shalaan, 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, al-Qahtani was investigated but not indicted “due to insufficient evidence” and al-Assiri was investigated and charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, the statement said.
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.
Of the 11 unnamed individuals indicted in the case, five were sentenced to death while three face jail terms totalling 24 years, and the others were acquitted. All can appeal the verdicts.
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.
After holding nine sessions, the trial concluded that there was no previous intent by those found guilty to murder, according to State TV