Saudi Arabia is under fire for yesterday's court verdict on several suspects in the October 2019 killing in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reports Anadolu Agency.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and legal US resident, was murdered after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on a visit to pick up paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.
Yesterday, five people were sentenced to death over the killing, but two senior aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were exonerated.
Shalaan al-Shalaan, the Saudi deputy public prosecutor, said a total of 31 people were investigated in connection with the killing, and that 11 people were charged. Three got jail terms totaling 24 years, and the rest were acquitted.
Contrary to investigations by the UN and CIA, as well as hard evidence provided by Turkey to parties of interest, al-Shalaan claimed that their "investigation showed that the killing was not premeditated."
Although records and international reports on the murder blamed Saud al-Qahtani, the former royal adviser, Mohammed al-Oteibi, the former consul-general in Istanbul, and Ahmed Assiri, the former intelligence deputy chief, prosecutors never made a claim against those officials, and the court did not give them any penalties.
Those figures are also known for being close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It is not known whether Salah Mohammed al-Tubaiqy, the head of forensic medicine, who allegedly dismembered Khashoggi's body, or Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a colonel in Saudi intelligence, the alleged mastermind behind the murder, were accused or not.
Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, said in a report this May that the murder was a "deliberate, premeditated execution" and that Prince Salman should be investigated.
A CIA report said that around the time of the killing, Prince Salman sent 11 electronic messages to al-Qahtani, said to have led the team that murdered the journalist.
Experts said those messages could effectively be an order for Khashoggi's death.