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Saudi Arabia sentences five to death for murder of Jamal Khashoggi – The Guardian, Theguardian.com

Saudi Arabia sentences five to death for murder of Jamal Khashoggi – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


Five men have been sentenced to death and another three face years in prison for their roles in the gruesome murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year, the Saudi public prosecutor’s office has said.

All 14 people on trial were found guilty of the killing, which triggered the kingdom’s biggest diplomatic crisis since the 9 / attacks as world leaders and business executives sought to distance themselves from Riyadh.

However, Saudi state television also reported the Saudi attorney general’s investigation showed that the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s former top adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, had no proven involvement in the killing, after being investigated and released without charge.

Al-Qahtani has been sanctioned by the US for his alleged role in the operation.

The court also ruled that the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi, was not guilty. He was released from prison after the verdicts were announced.

The murder of Khashoggi sullied the reputation of the newly appointed crown prince, whom the CIA connected directly ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Prince Mohammed has attempted to portray himself as a liberal reformer of the conservative country. The Saudi government denies the prince had knowledge of what it says was a rogue operation. The prince himself told US television in September that he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia”.

After holding nine sessions, the trial concluded that there was no previous intent by those found guilty to murder.

All defendants may appeal against the verdicts, the deputy public prosecutor, Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaal, said.

Jamal Khashoggi was one of the Arab world’s most prominent journalists and commentators. He was an outspoken critic ofSaudi Arabiawho dared to defy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While living in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi was told to stop writing or posting on Twitter, where he had more than 1.6 million followers. He moved to the US in June 2019, where he continued to comment on his country both in print and on television. He wrote columns for the Washington Post and the Guardian.

His message struck a nuanced tone in the US, where he tried to acknowledge the undertaken undertaken by Bin Salman while also highlighting the flaws.

Khashoggi previously had close links with the Saudi royal family, including having served as a media aide to Prince Turki al-Faisal, when the latter was director general of the Saudi intelligence agency.

He was also a former editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan and had worked with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the first Saudi king.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbulin October (*******************************************. ***

Photograph: Virginia Mayo / AP

No other details were immediately given about the rulings in the highly secretive trial, which began in January. The identities of the men are unknown and UN investigators have been repeatedly barred from hearings, although a handful of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi’s family, were allowed to attend the sessions.

Ankara has repeatedly sought the extradition for trial in Turkey of Saudi suspects, including a
Man hit team it says flew into Istanbul hours before the killing to dispatch the journalist.

Agnès Callamard, a UN special r assessed who authored an inquiry into Khashoggi’s death, has previously said the search for justice must not be left to the Saudi judicial system, which is “so vulnerable to political interference”.

Dozens of high-profile critics of Prince Mohammed, including women’s rights campaigners, are in prison facing trial for treason.

Khashoggi, a US-based columnist for the Washington Post critical of the Saudi government, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October last year on a visit to pick up paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.

The – year-old’s body has still not been found and is thought by Turkish investigators to have been dissolved in acid.

Saudi Arabia initially denied its officials were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, but as Turkish authorities continued to leak evidence of high-level involvement, the kingdom eventually admitted its agents carried out the killing, offering a series of contradictory explanations.

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Jamal Khashoggi: CCTV shows alleged Saudi hit squad’s movements – video

Donald Trump, whom has made Saudi Arabia the keystone of his Middle East policy, condemned the killing but has staunchly defended his ally, Prince Mohammed. His administration has sanctioned 18 Saudis suspected of being involved in Khashoggi’s death, though not the crown prince.

Trump has steadfastly resisted calls by congress and members of his own party for a tougher response, defending maintaining good relations with the kingdom because of its importance as a major trade and diplomatic ally.

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