Five people have been sentenced to death in connection with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced Monday, The Washington Post reported.
The slaying of Khashoggi in October 2018 sparked a global outcry against the kingdom and led to greater scrutiny of a crackdown on dissidents pursued by the crown prince.
The verdicts came after a trial in Riyadh’s criminal court that lasted nearly a year and was shrouded in secrecy. Court sessions were closed to the public, and foreign officials who attended were told not to reveal details of the proceedings.
At a news conference in Riyadh on Monday, Shalaan al-Shalaan, a spokesman for the Saudi public prosecutor, declined to identify the five people who were sentenced to death. Three other people were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years.
Shalaan said two senior officials – Saud al-Qahtani, a royal adviser, and Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy head of intelligence – were investigated and exonerated. Mohammed al-Otaibi, who served as consul general in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul when the killing occurred, was also cleared, the spokesman said.
“We affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary on all its levels, in it being fair to us, and achieving justice,” he wrote on Twitter. But Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, also on Twitter, said the findings were “not acceptable.”
Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia, visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to obtain documents that would allow him to marry Cengiz. Turkish and Saudi investigators say Khashoggi was killed soon after he arrived at the mission, as Cengiz waited outside, by a team of agents who had flown to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia.