Five people were sentenced to death and three more to jail terms totalling 24 years in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A top aide to the Saudi crown prince under investigation was not charged.

In this October 2, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to a ceremony, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the one-year anniversary of his death. A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 by a team of Saudi agents.
In this October 2, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to a ceremony, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the one-year anniversary of his death. A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 by a team of Saudi agents. (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP)

Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death and three more to jail terms totalling 24 years over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October last year.

Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al Shalaan, reading out the verdict in the trial, said the court dismissed charges against the remaining three of the 11 people that had been on trial, finding them not guilty. A top aid of the crown prince believed by many to be involved in the planning of the murder was investigated but not charged.

Khashoggi was a US resident and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the kingdom's de facto ruler.

He was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to receive papers ahead of his wedding. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

The killing caused a global uproar, tarnishing the crown prince's image. 

The decision is far from meeting the expectations of both our country and the international community for enlightening all aspects of this murder and for the manifestation of justice, Hami Aksoy, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement.   

Verdicts can be appealed

The CIA and some Western governments have said they believe Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, but Saudi officials say he had no role. Eleven Saudi suspects were put on trial over his death in secretive proceedings in Riyadh.

In the investigation into the murder, 21 were arrested and 10 were called in for questioning without arrest, Shalaan said.

Riyadh's criminal court pronounced the death penalty on five individuals, whose names have not yet been released, "for committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim".

The three sentenced to prison were given various sentences totalling 24 years "for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law".

Shalaan added that the investigations proved there was no "prior enmity" between those convicted and Khashoggi.

The verdicts can still be appealed.

Asiri, Qahtani spared

Last November the Saudi prosecutor said that Saud al Qahtani, a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser, had discussed Khashoggi's activities before he entered the Saudi consulate with the team which went on to kill him.

The prosecutor said Qahtani acted in coordination with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al Asiri, who he said had ordered Khashoggi’s repatriation from Turkey and that the lead negotiator on the ground then decided to kill him.

Both men were dismissed from their positions but while Asiri went on trial, Qahtani did not.

On Monday, Shalaan said Asiri has been released due to insufficient evidence, and Qahtani had been investigated but was not charged and had been released.

Source: Reuters