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.
— Foreign Ministry (@KSAmofaEN) December 23, 2019
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.”
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. https://t.co/rpm0WWaMcb
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) December 23, 2019
“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.