Saudi court releases MBS aides in Khashoggi murder trial
Iran Press TV
Monday, 23 December 2019 11:23 AM
Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor says two top figures, including Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who were investigated in the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year, had been exonerated and released.
Reading out the preliminary verdict in the trial, Saudi Public Prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said of the 11 unnamed individuals held over Khashoggi's death, five were sentenced to death, three more were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years and the remaining three were exonerated.
Riyadh's criminal court issued death sentences on five men "for committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim", he said.
The three who are facing jail terms were sentenced "for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law".
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 after he entered the perimeter to collect documents for his planned wedding.
The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had concluded that bin Salman personally ordered his killing.
Ankara has called Khashoggi's killing "premeditated murder," and has pressed the kingdom for information on his dismembered body's whereabouts.
Riyadh, which initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate on October 2 last year, has spurned all the allegations linking the killing to the crown prince and instead claimed that the murder had been carried out
Saudi Arabia put 11 suspects on trial over the killing of Khashoggi in secretive proceedings. The United Nations slammed the trial and questioned its fairness earlier this year.
UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani has called for an independent investigation into the killing and demanded "international involvement".
Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri oversaw the killing and that he was advised by Qahtani.
The pair was sacked from their positions, and Asiri went on trial, but Qahtani did not.
Qahtani was investigated but not indicted "due to insufficient evidence" and Assiri was investigated and charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, the prosecutor said.
"We found that Khashoggi's murder was not premeditated," the prosecutor added.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|