Saudi sentences five people to death for Khashoggi murder

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced five people to death for the murder of dissident journalist and political activist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year, Arab News reported.

Investigations show there was no prior intention to kill Khashoggi, who was murdered at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey’s largest city in October 2018, the Saudi public prosecutor’s office said on Monday, according to Arab News. It did not name the persons convicted.

Turkey has called on Saudi Arabia to hand over the murder suspects for trial in Istanbul, saying there was strong suspicion that his killing was approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Several Saudi agents involved worked directly for him.

Saudi prosecutors have characterised the crime as a “rogue operation”. Saud Qahtani, an adviser to the Royal Court, and former deputy head of intelligence Ahmed Al-Asiri were released due to insufficient evidence, according to Arab News. The Saudi consul general was elsewhere at the time of Khashoggi's killing, the court said.

Three other people have been sentenced to a total of 24 years in jail for helping to cover up the crime, Arab News said.

Prince Mohammed has been under severe international scrutiny since the murder. The crown prince has denied any involvement, but said in October that he took full responsibility.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard has labelled the murder was an extra judicial killing and called for Prince Mohammed to be investigated for the crime.