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Saudi court sentences five to death over Khashoggi murder

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia   /   Mon, December 23, 2019   /   06:10 pm
Saudi court sentences five to death over Khashoggi murder In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014 , Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attends a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. Saudi Arabia's attorney general sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of Khashoggi as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on January 3, 2019. (AFP/Mohammed Al-Shaikh )

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.

"The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing," the prosecutor said in a statement.

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.

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.

The prosecutor said that the Riyadh court hearing the case held a total of nine sessions attended by representatives of the international community as well as Khashoggi's relatives.

"We found that Khashoggi's murder was not premeditated," the statement said.