Five face ex­e­cu­tion for mur­der of Khashoggi

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Ab­bie Cheese­man in Beirut

Five men have been sen­tenced to death in Saudi Ara­bia for the mur­der of Ja­mal Khashoggi, the dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist. How­ever, the two most se­nior of­fi­cials im­pli­cated in the killing were ex­on­er­ated be­cause of a lack of ev­i­dence, prompt­ing rights groups to la­bel the trial a “white­wash”. Mr Khashoggi, who wrote for the Wash­ing­ton Post, was lured to the Saudi em­bassy in Is­tan­bul where Saudi agents tor­tured him be­fore killing him and dis­mem­ber­ing his body.

SAUDI ARA­BIA has sen­tenced five men to death for the mur­der of dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi last year.

How­ever, the two most se­nior of­fi­cials im­pli­cated in the killing were ex­on­er­ated be­cause of a lack of ev­i­dence, prompt­ing rights groups to crit­i­cise the trial as a “white­wash”.

Mr Khashoggi, a colum­nist for the Wash­ing­ton Post, was lured to the Saudi em­bassy in Is­tan­bul to ob­tain pa­per­work to marry his Turk­ish fi­ancée.

In­side he was con­fronted by Saudi agents and kid­napped, tor­tured and dis­mem­bered. His re­mains have never been found. The crime bat­tered Saudi Ara­bia’s rep­u­ta­tion, with a leaked CIA as­sess­ment last year claim­ing “medium to high con­fi­dence” that Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man per­son­ally or­dered the killing.

An­nounc­ing the ver­dict of a se­cret trial in Riyadh yes­ter­day, Sha­laan alsha­laan, the deputy pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor, said that three men had also re­ceived a to­tal of 24 years in prison for “their role in cov­er­ing up this crime”. None of the 11 who went on trial was named by the Saudi au­thor­i­ties.

The pros­e­cu­tor main­tained that the oper­a­tion had not in­tended to kill Mr Khashoggi, who had been crit­i­cal of the prince and re­pres­sion in Saudi Ara­bia.

The US placed sanc­tions on 17 peo­ple af­ter the mur­der, among them Saud al Qathani, an ad­viser to the crown prince who last Novem­ber, the pros­e­cu­tor said, had dis­cussed the ac­tiv­i­ties of Mr Khashoggi be­fore he en­tered the con­sulate on Oct 2 2018.

Mr Qathani was not tried due to a lack of ev­i­dence, Mr Sha­laan said. Work­ing in co-or­di­na­tion with Mr Qathani, deputy in­tel­li­gence chief,

Ahmed al-asiri was ini­tially charged for or­der­ing the repa­tri­a­tion of Mr Khashoggi from Turkey. He was also re­leased due to in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence.

Agnes Cal­la­mard, a UN in­ves­ti­ga­tor, wrote on Twit­ter: “The hit-men are guilty, sen­tenced to death. The mas­ter­minds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” The five sen­tenced to death will be be­headed in pub­lic if their sen­tence is agreed by a higher court.

Ac­cord­ing to a list com­piled from var­i­ous sources by Ms Cal­la­mard, the five men fac­ing the death penalty were Ma­her Ab­du­laziz Mutreb, a body­guard who reg­u­larly ac­com­pa­nied Prince

Mo­hammed; Salah al-tubaigy, a foren­sics ex­pert; Fa­had Shabib al-balawi and Waleed Abdullah al-shehri, mem­bers of the Saudi Royal Guard; and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer Turki Muser­ref al-shehri.

Do­minic Raab, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, said: “Mr Khashoggi’s fam­ily de- serve to see jus­tice done for his bru­tal mur­der. Saudi Ara­bia must en­sure all of those re­spon­si­ble are held to ac­count and that such an atroc­ity can never hap­pen again.” Mr Khashoggi’s son Salah said af­ter the sen­tences were an­nounced that jus­tice had been done.

“To­day we have been granted jus­tice as the chil­dren of the de­ceased,” he wrote on Twit­ter. “We af­firm our con­fi­dence in the Saudi ju­di­ciary … and jus­tice has been achieved.”

Ja­mal Khashoggi, a jour­nal­ist for the Wash­ing­ton Post, was lured to his death at the Saudi em­bassy in Is­tan­bul

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