5 are sen­tenced to die for Khashoggi’s killing

US jour­nal­ist’s fi­ancee, UN say Saudi ver­dicts don’t go far enough

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy

RIYADH, Saudi Ara­bia — A court in Saudi Ara­bia sen­tenced five peo­ple to death Mon­day for the killing of Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist and royal fam­ily critic Ja­mal Khashoggi, whose grisly slay­ing in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul drew in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and cast a cloud of sus­pi­cion over Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man.

Three other peo­ple were found guilty by Riyadh’s crim­i­nal court of cov­er­ing up the crime and were sen­tenced to a com­bined 24 years in prison, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment read by the Saudi at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice on state TV.

In all, 11 peo­ple were put on trial in Saudi Ara­bia over the killing. The names of those found guilty were not dis­closed by the gov­ern­ment.

Ex­e­cu­tions in the king­dom are car­ried out by be­head­ing, some­times in pub­lic. All the ver­dicts can be ap­pealed.

A small num­ber of diplo­mats, in­clud­ing from Turkey, as well as mem­bers of Khashoggi’s fam­ily were al­lowed to at­tend the nine court ses­sions, though in­de­pen­dent me­dia were barred.

The trial con­cluded the killing was not pre­med­i­tated, ac­cord­ing to Shaalan alShaalan, a spokesper­son from the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice. That find­ing is in line with the Saudi gov­ern­ment’s of­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion, which has been called into ques­tion by ev­i­dence that a hit team of Saudi agents with tools was sent to dis­patch Khashoggi.

While the case in Saudi Ara­bia has largely con­cluded, ques­tions linger out­side Riyadh about the crown prince’s cul­pa­bil­ity in the slay­ing.

“The de­ci­sion is too un­law­ful to be ac­cept­able,” Khashoggi’s fi­ancee, Hat­ice Cen­giz, said in a text mes­sage to The As­so­ci­ated Press. “It is un­ac­cept­able.”

Agnes Cal­la­mard, who in­ves­ti­gated the killing for the United Na­tions, tweeted that the ver­dicts are a “mock­ery” and that the mas­ter­minds be­hind the crime “have barely been touched by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the trial.” Amnesty In­ter­na­tional called the out­come “a white­wash which brings nei­ther jus­tice nor truth.”

Khashoggi, who was a res­i­dent of the U.S., had walked into his coun­try’s con­sulate on Oct. 2, 2018, for an ap­point­ment to pick up doc­u­ments that would al­low him to marry his Turk­ish fi­ancee. He never walked out, and his body has not been found.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi in­side the con­sulate. They in­cluded a foren­sic doc­tor, in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity of­fi­cers and in­di­vid­u­als who worked for the crown prince’s of­fice, ac­cord­ing to Cal­la­mard’s in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Turk­ish of­fi­cials al­lege Khashoggi was killed and then dis­mem­bered with a bone saw.

The slay­ing stunned Saudi Ara­bia’s Western al­lies and im­me­di­ately raised ques­tions about how the high-level oper­a­tion could have been car­ried out with­out the knowl­edge of Prince Mo­hammed — even as the king­dom in­sists the crown prince had noth­ing to do with the killing.

In an in­ter­view in Septem­ber with CBS’ “60 Min­utes,” Prince Mo­hammed said: “I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity as a leader in Saudi Ara­bia.” But he re­it­er­ated that he had no knowl­edge of the oper­a­tion, say­ing he could not keep such close track of the coun­try’s mil­lions of em­ploy­ees.

The prince’s fa­ther, King Sal­man, or­dered a shake-up of top se­cu­rity posts af­ter the killing.

Turkey, a ri­val of Saudi Ara­bia, has used the killing on its soil to pres­sure the king­dom. Turkey, which had de­manded the sus­pects be tried there, ap­par­ently had the Saudi Con­sulate bugged and has shared au­dio of the killing with the CIA, among oth­ers.

Saudi Ara­bia ini­tially of­fered shift­ing ac­counts about Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance. As in­ter­na­tional pres­sure mounted be­cause of the Turk­ish leaks, the king­dom even­tu­ally set­tled on the ex­pla­na­tion that he was killed by rogue of­fi­cials in a brawl.

Khashoggi had spent the last year of his life in ex­ile in the U.S. writ­ing in the Post about hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Saudi Ara­bia. At a time when Prince Mo­hammed’s so­cial re­forms were be­ing widely hailed in the West, Khashoggi’s col­umns crit­i­cized the par­al­lel crack­down on dis­sent the prince was over­see­ing. Nu­mer­ous crit­ics of the Saudi crown prince are in prison and face trial on na­tional se­cu­rity charges.

In Wash­ing­ton, Congress has said it be­lieves Prince Mo­hammed is “re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der.“Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has con­demned the killing but has stood by the 34-year-old crown prince and de­fended U.S.-Saudi ties.

Wash­ing­ton has sanc­tioned 17 Saudis sus­pected of be­ing in­volved.

ARIS OIKONOMOU/GETTY-AFP

U.N. spe­cial rap­por­teur Agnes Cal­la­mard tweeted that the ver­dicts are a “mock­ery.”

Khashoggi

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