Five face execution for murder of Khashoggi
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