Five people have been sentenced to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but two top figures investigated over the killing have been exonerated, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said Monday.
Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri oversaw the Washington Post columnist’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018 and that he was advised by the royal court’s media czar Saud al-Qahtani.
However, Qahtani was investigated but not indicted “due to insufficient evidence” and Assiri was investigated and charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, the statement said.
On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi had arrived at the consulate in Istanbul seeking documents for his upcoming wedding, when Saudi officials inside the building overpowered and killed him. Initially, he was said to have gone missing, however, Turkish authorities denied it and said they had recordings that prove he was murdered inside the consulate by Saudi officials.
Two weeks after his disappearance, under increasing global pressure, Saudi Arabia admitted that the dissident journalist was killed, claiming that his death was a result of a “fistfight”.
After evidence continued to emerge, on the contrary, the Saudi prosecutor later said that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains were not found.
Of the 11 unnamed individuals indicted in the case, five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totaling 24 years, and the others were acquitted.