Saudi Court Sentences 5 to Death for Killing of Washington Post Journalist

December 23, 2019 Updated: December 23, 2019

A Saudi Arabia court sentenced five people to death on Dec. 23 for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was assassinated in 2018 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

“Capital punishment for (5) individuals for committing and directly participating in the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia posted on Twitter on Dec. 23.

In a statement, the public prosecutor stated that it had concluded the investigation and due process, which included 31 people, out of which 21 individuals were arrested.

The public prosecutor said the investigation led to “the indictment of (11) individuals in this case and the filing of criminal charges against these individuals in the criminal court of Riyadh.”

It said out of these 11 indicted people, five were awarded capital punishment for directly participating in the murder.

“Different sentences amounting to a total of (24) years in prison for (3) individuals for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law,” according to the statement.

The court found three people not guilty and dismissed all charges against them. Charges weren’t filed against another 10 due to “insufficient evidence.”

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding. The Saudi Foreign Ministry admitted on Oct. 19 that Khashoggi had been killed during his visit to the consulate and said that it had arrested 18 Saudi citizens and fired five top officials.

A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted in a red circle by the source, as he arrives at Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted in a red circle by the source, as he arrives at Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, 2018. (Courtesy TRT World/Handout via Reuters)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had drawn widespread condemnation for Khashoggi’s murder, as some of those involved in the killing allegedly worked for him.

Saudi state TV reported that Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the crown prince who was sanctioned by the United States for his alleged role in the killing, had no proven involvement in the killing, according to Fox News.

Mohammed al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time of the murder, was found not guilty and released from prison after the Dec. 23 verdict.

The trial also concluded that those found guilty for Khashoggi’s murder had no prior intent to kill the journalist.

The verdict on the assassination has caused widespread condemnation from the global community and drew strong reactions from various governments and journalists on Dec. 23.

“When Saudis sentence five to death for Khashoggi’s murder, we fear that it is a way to silence them for ever and to conceal the truth. We cannot consider death penalty helps to bring justice. We still expect a full accounting,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Border in a message on Twitter.

“The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible crime. Mr. Khashoggi’s family deserve[s] to see justice done for his brutal murder. Saudi Arabia must ensure all of those responsible are held to account and that such an atrocity can never happen again,” said Dominic Raab, foreign secretary of the United Kingdom in a statement.

Raab condemned the “use of the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.”

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