Death sentence for five, jail terms for three in Khashoggi murder trial

Five people were sentenced to death over Jamal’s Khashoggi murder. (AFP)
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Updated 24 December 2019

Death sentence for five, jail terms for three in Khashoggi murder trial

  • Announcing Riyadh court’s decision, deputy prosecutor said probe showed the ‘killing was not premeditated’

RIYADH: Five people have been sentenced to death and three more were given jail terms by Riyadh’s criminal court over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.
Khashoggi was killed when he visited the Saudi Consulate in October in Istanbul.
Reading out the verdict in the trial in Riyadh on Monday, Shalaan Al-Shalaan, the Saudi deputy public prosecutor and spokesman, said the court dismissed the charges against the remaining three of the 11 defendants who had been on trial, finding them not guilty.

Representatives from the Khashoggi family and the Turkish embassy were present during the announcement of the decision.
The three defendants given prison terms totalling 24 years were found guilty “for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law.”
No names were released for those who were convicted, as they could still appeal the ruling.
Al-Shalaan said the investigations proved there was no “prior enmity” between those convicted and Khashoggi.
“The investigation showed that the killing was not premeditated ... The decision was taken at the spur of the moment,” he said.
He said that when the team saw that it would be impossible to transfer Khashoggi to a safe place to continue negotiating, they decided to kill him.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, meanwhile, posted on Twitter: “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible crime. Mr Khashoggi’s family deserve 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.”

 

“It was agreed, in consultation between the head of the negotiating team and the culprits, to kill Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate,” Al-Shalaan said in response to questions from journalists.
Among those interrogated was Saud Qahtani, a former royal court advisor. Al-Shalaan said Qahtani was investigated but not charged and had been released.
He also said Ahmed Al-Asiri, the deputy intelligence chief, was tried and released due to insufficient evidence.
The Riyadh criminal court exonerated the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at that time, Mohammed Al-Otaibi, and two other individuals.
According to Al-Shalaan, Turkish witnesses said Al-Otaibi had been with them on the day of the crime.
Al-Otaibi was released after the verdicts were announced, according to Saudi state TV.
The public prosecution will review the court’s decision and decide whether it will file an appeal at the Appellate Court, the state news agency SPA reported.
Up to 31 individuals were included in the investigation, 21 of whom were arrested and 10 called in for questioning without arrest, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
The statement said the court held nine sessions in the Khashoggi case attended by representatives of the international community and of Khashoggi’s family.

 


Saudi ban on Umrah pilgrims backed by OIC, Arab health ministers

Updated 53 min 19 sec ago

Saudi ban on Umrah pilgrims backed by OIC, Arab health ministers

  • The Egyptian minister of religious endowments also gave his support to the Saudi move
  • The common practice of foreign pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s Mosque before or after the completion of rituals in Makkah, has also been halted

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims, imposed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the killer coronavirus, was on Thursday backed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The OIC’s General Secretariat stressed its full support for the Kingdom’s preventive measures aimed at protecting its citizens and worshippers intending to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the decision to suspend entry to the country for Umrah pilgrims was made to ensure public safety and stop the deadly virus, known as Covid-19, from spreading.
The common practice of foreign pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah before or after the completion of their religious duties in Makkah, had also been halted, the ministry added.
Approving the move, the OIC said: “The Kingdom’s decision to ban the entry of pilgrims temporarily will help preserve their safety. It comes in line with the adopted international standards and supports the efforts of states and international organizations, particularly the World Health Organization (WHO).”
The OIC’s view was on Thursday echoed by the Council of Arab Health Ministers at the end of its 53rd session being held at the Arab League’s headquarters.
Council members highlighted the importance of “boosting cooperation between Arab states to implement joint measures preventing the transmission of Covid-19 and supporting the affected states when discovering new cases.”
The health ministers also emphasized the necessity of making the most of the adoption of risk assessment systems and approaches for dealing with the virus outbreak among Arab states.
The council commended measures already taken by Arab countries, in accordance with WHO guidelines, to respond, prevent and fight the spread of the coronavirus. It pointed out the importance of promoting communication, the exchange of information, and continuous coordination between Arab League member states and their relevant health bodies and sectors.
However, chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s committee on hotels, Abdullah Filali, warned of tough times ahead for the holy city’s accommodation sector.
He told Arab News that with more than 1,300 hotels, Makkah was heading toward a difficult season with high financial losses if the Umrah ban continued and was extended until Ramadan.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments Sheikh Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, gave his support to the Saudi move. “The decision to ban Umrah visas is justified, as it intends to preserve the lives of pilgrims from a certain doom. The Saudi foreign ministry said that this measure is temporary and will be continuously re-evaluated,” he said.
“We all know that crowded places are more vulnerable to the spread of the virus, which was confirmed by the WHO’s reports. We ask Allah to save all humanity and protect Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world against all harm,” the minister added.
Sheikh Dr. Khalid Al-Halibi, director of the House of Expertise for Research and Social Studies, said: “We support our government’s decision which aims to preserve the lives and the well-being of the people. It is a necessary preventive measure that was appreciated by the professionals.”
The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques announced its readiness to deal with any epidemic, saying it would provide all necessary information to pilgrims and had doubled cleaning schedules for courtyards and corridors at the Two Holy Mosques.
Highly qualified cadres used the latest cleaning and sterilization tools, said Jaber Widaani, director of the mosques’ department of disinfection and carpets, noting that 13,500 prayer rugs were swept and fragranced on a daily basis.
The presidency added that it was raising media awareness in all languages and via information screens to pass on the latest medical instructions and emergency developments.