Gulf kingdom announces three others sentenced to prison, as royal adviser released without charge
A court in Saudi Arabia on Monday announced that it had sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in Istanbul’s Saudi Consulate last year by a team of the Gulf kingdom’s agents.
State-run Al-Ekhbariya TV reported that three others had been sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years. All have the right to appeal their verdicts. Another 10 defendants, said the kingdom’s public prosecutor, had been released due to insufficient evidence. The kingdom has carried out the trials of the accused in near total secrecy, raising questions over their transparency and fairness.
Saud al-Qahtani, a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was investigated but not charged and was released, said the kingdom’s public prosecutor. Al-Qahtani had reportedly been in contact with Khashoggi since at least October 2017 and was also reportedly involved with luring the journalist back to Saudi Arabia. Turkish sources, following the assassination, had alleged that he had organized the operation that led to Khashoggi’s killing, with multiple independent reports claiming he had personally ordered the assassination.
Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and a prominent critic of the Saudi crown prince. He was killed inside Istanbul’s Saudi consulate after he entered the building on Oct. 2, 2018 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry.
The Gulf kingdom vociferously denied having any role in the killing for weeks, before eventually acknowledging that its officials were behind the gruesome murder. The whereabouts of the journalist’s dismembered body are still unknown.
In the immediate aftermath of the killing, MBS drew international condemnation because several of the Saudi agents involved worked directly for him. The CIA reportedly found that Prince Salman likely ordered the killing. Riyadh has consistently denied this, saying the crown prince played no role in the killing.