Five people have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year, the public prosecutor said on Monday, December 23. "The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing," the prosecutor said in a statement.
Addressing a press conference, spokesman for the public prosecutor's office Shalan al Shalan said three others were sentenced to different penalties. Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri oversaw Khashoggi'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.
Initially, the Saudi officials denied Khashoggi's death on October 2, 2018, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but later acknowledged he had been killed when a fight broke out.
11 unnamed individuals indicted in the case
Saudi Arabia has said Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation" and put 11 defendants, all of whom are Saudi nationals, on trial earlier this year. Of the 11 unnamed individuals indicted in the murder case, five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totalling 24 years, and the others were acquitted.
Khashoggi had been a columnist for the Washington Post since 2017 after he left Saudi Arabia and was openly critical of his country's monarchy.
The Post has condemned Khashoggi's killing, with its editorial page editor Fred Hiatt qualifying it as "a monstrous and unfathomable act" if true, in a statement made in October last year.
He said Khashoggi was a "committed, courageous journalist", according to the Post.
Khashoggi's disappearance sparked a backlash from the international community, drawing condemnation from organisations and world leaders.