AP

Saudi sentences 5 to death for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing

Dec 23, 2019, 6:24 AM
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saud...
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to a ceremony, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the one-year anniversary of his death. A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 by a team of Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia's state TV reported Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 that three others were sentenced to prison. All can appeal the verdicts. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death on Monday for the killing of Washington Post columnist and royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year by a team of Saudi agents.

The killing of Khashoggi stunned the international community and also many Saudi citizens, who were deeply shocked that a Saudi national could be killed by 15 government agents inside one of the kingdom’s consulates.

Another three people were sentenced to prison for a combined 24 years, according to a statement read by the attorney general’s office on Saudi state TV. No individual breakdown for the sentencing was given.

In total, 11 people were on trial in Saudi Arabia for the killing, but the government has not made their names public. All can appeal the preliminary verdicts.

While the case in Saudi Arabia has largely concluded, questions still linger in the international court of public opinion about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s culpability in the slaying.

Khashoggi had walked into his country’s consulate in Istanbul for a scheduled 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.

The Oct. 2, 2018 slaying brought into sharp focus the very concerns over human rights that Khashoggi had spent the last year of his life in exile in the U.S. writing about in columns for The Washington Post — and the reason he may have been targeted.

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.

In Washington, Congress has said it believes Prince Mohammed is “responsible for the murder,” despite Saudi insistence he had no involvement in the operation, which involved several agents who worked directly for the 34-year-old prince.

President Donald Trump has condemned the killing but he’s stood by the crown prince and defended U.S.-Saudi ties. Washington has sanctioned 17 Saudis suspected of being involved, though not Prince Mohammed.

Among those sanctioned is Saud al-Qahtani, a hawkish former adviser to the crown prince whom the Saudi attorney general’s office said Monday had no proven involvement in the killing.

Riyadh’s criminal court also ordered that the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi, be released from prison after the verdicts were announced, according to state TV.

Al-Otaibi, however, has also been sanctioned by the U.S. due to his “involvement in gross violations of human rights.” The U.S. Department of State has also issued travel bans against the consul general’s immediate family.

After holding nine sessions, the trial concluded that there was no previous intent by those found guilty to murder, according to a statement read by Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesperson from the attorney general’s office, and broadcast on state TV. Al-Shaalan said the attorney general’s office is looking into the verdicts to see whether it will appeal.

The 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.

Agnes Callamard, a U.N. special rapporteur who authored an inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing, has previously said the search for justice must not be left to the Saudi judicial system, which is “so vulnerable to political interference.”

Callamard reacted to the verdicts announced from Riyadh by tweeting that “the travesty of investigation, prosecution and justice continues” in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, numerous critics of the Saudi crown prince remain imprisoned and face trial for their acts of dissent.

In Turkey, Yasin Aktay, a member of Turkey’s ruling party and a friend of Khashoggi, criticized the verdict, saying the Saudi court had failed to bring the real perpetrators to justice. He also lamented that the trial was not transparent.

“The prosecutor sentenced five hit men to death but did not touch those who were behind the five,” Aktay told The Associated Press. “These are people who cannot even use the bathroom without the permission of their superiors.”

“The verdict neither meets the expectations of the public conscience nor the feeling of justice,” he said.

Although Khashoggi’s killing tarnished Prince Mohammed’s reputation internationally, he is hugely popular at home, especially among young Saudis happy with the social changes he’s ushered in.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has over the past months launched efforts to open up the notoriously closed-off country to tourists and travelers from around the world as part of a push by the crown prince to boost the economy and change perceptions of the kingdom.

___

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
6 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
8 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
9 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
10 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
10 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Saudi sentences 5 to death for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing