Saudi Court Sentences Five To Death For Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi

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A court in Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi Palace, was killed inside the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul by a team of Saudi agents.

The Saudi authorities said it was the result of a “rogue operation” and put 11 unnamed individuals on trial.

The Riyadh Criminal Court sentenced five individuals to death for “committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim”, according to the public prosecution’s statement.

Three others were handed prison sentences totalling 24 years for “covering up this crime and violating the law”, while the remaining three were found not guilty.

The 59-year-old journalist, a US-based columnist for the Washington Post, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, to obtain papers he needed to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Khashoggi, however, never came out alive to meet Cengiz, and his body was mutilated and deposed off to a local Turkish collaborator, according to the Saudi account.

According to a statement by the Saudi public prosecutor, a total of 31 individuals were investigated over the killing and 21 of them were arrested. Eleven were eventually referred to trial at the Riyadh Criminal Court and the public prosecutor sought the death penalty for five of them.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, had in June claimed that the five people facing the death penalty were Fahad Shabib Albalawi; Turki Muserref Alshehri; Waleed Abdullah Alshehri; Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, an intelligence officer; and Dr Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, a forensic doctor with the interior ministry.

However, Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aide to the Crown Prince, who was sacked and investigated over the killing, and Ahmad Asiri, a former Deputy Intelligence Chief, were not charged for the murder. they were both seen by the international community as the brains behind the killing of Khashoggi.

Also not convicted was the Crown Prince, who human right groups and advocates said “definitely” issued the instruction to his subordinates to kill the outspoken journalist.

The prince denied any involvement, but in October he said he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government”.

Shalaan Shalaan, Saudi Arabia’s deputy public prosecutor, at a press conference on Monday said the public prosecution’s investigations had shown that “there was no premeditation to kill at the beginning of the mission”.

“The investigation showed that the killing was not premeditated… The killing was in the spur of the moment, when the head of the negotiating team inspected the premises of the consulate and realised that it was impossible to move the victim to a safe place to resume negotiations.

“The head of the negotiating team and the perpetrators then discussed and agreed to kill the victim inside the consulate,” he said.

But Callamard, who authored a UN-backed report in June which stated that Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince were responsible for the murder, said in a post on Twitter that the investigation and trial lacked credibility.

“Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial,” her tweet read.

Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, described the Saudi verdict as  “not acceptable”.

Human Rights Watch said the trial, which took place behind closed doors, did not meet international standards and that the Saudi authorities had “obstructed meaningful accountability”.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the decision of the Saudi court was “far from meeting the expectations of both our country and the international community to shed light on the murder with all its dimensions and deliver justice”.

The public prosecution said it would decide whether to review the court’s rulings and decide whether to appeal. The death sentences must be upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

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Saudi sentences five to death, three to jail over Khashoggi killing

Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death and three more to jail terms, totalling 24 years, over the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul in October last year.

Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and spokesman, Shalaan al-Shalaan, reading out the verdict in the trial, said the court dismissed charges against the remaining three of the 11 people that had been on trial, finding them not guilty.

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

He was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, where he had gone to receive papers ahead of his wedding.

His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

The killing caused a global uproar, tarnishing the crown prince’s image.

The CIA and some Western governments have said they believe Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, but Saudi officials say he had no role.

Eleven Saudi suspects were put on trial over his death in secretive proceedings in Riyadh.

In the investigation into the murder, 21 were arrested and 10 were called in for questioning without arrest, Shalaan said.

Riyadh’s criminal court pronounced the death penalty on five individuals, whose names have not yet been released, “for committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim’’.

READ ALSO: Khashoggi memorial to be held outside Saudi consulate

The three sentenced to prison were given various sentences totalling 24 years “for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law’’.

Shalaan added that the investigations proved there was no “prior enmity” between those convicted and Khashoggi.

The verdicts can still be appealed.

Last November, the Saudi prosecutor said that Saud al-Qahtani, a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser, discussed Khashoggi’s activities before he entered the Saudi consulate with the team that went on to kill him.

The prosecutor said Qahtani acted in coordination with Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who he said, had ordered Khashoggi’s repatriation from Turkey and that the lead negotiator on the ground then decided to kill him.

Both men were dismissed from their positions but while Asiri went on trial, Qahtani did not.

On Monday Shalaan said Asiri has been released due to insufficient evidence and Qahtani had been investigated but was not charged and had been released.

Reuters/NAN)

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A year later, what Khashoggi’s murder says about Trump’s close ally

(CNN)A year ago, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi writer, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiance, who was waiting for him outside the building. He was never seen again.

A contributor to the Washington Post, Khashoggi, aged 59, was a critic of the Saudi regime and was living in self-imposed exile in the United States. He was murdered inside the Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018, by a team that was dispatched from Saudi Arabia, among them associates of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman — known as MBS — the then-32-year-old de facto ruler of the country.
The Saudis (and MBS himself) have consistently denied that bin Salman had any direct role in Khashoggi’s murder and instead have ascribed it to a rogue operation by overzealous subordinates. They charged 11 of them, five of whom face a possible death penalty, although given the opaque nature of the Saudi legal system little is clear about the yet unresolved case.
    In November 2018, the CIA concluded — with “high confidence” according to the Washington Post — that bin Salman had ordered the murder of Khashoggi.
    Khashoggi’s murder brought into sharp focus concerns about the judgment of the young prince that had percolated for years. MBS had variously entered an ongoing war in Yemen that, according to the UN, had precipitated the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet; he had blockaded the gas-rich state of Qatar, a close American ally and the site of the most important US military base in the Middle East. Domestically, MBS had also imprisoned a host of clerics, dissidents and businessmen.

      Trump: ‘I’m extremely angry’ about Khashoggi killing

    At first it looked like Trump might distance himself from MBS. Less than two weeks after Khashoggi’s murder on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” President Donald Trump promised “severe punishment” for the Saudis if it was proven that they had murdered Khashoggi. Khashoggi, after all, was both a legal resident of the United States and a journalist who was contributing regularly to a major American media institution.
    A month later, Trump backpedaled, citing putative massive American arms sales to the Saudis. Trump told reporters, “…it’s ‘America First’ for me. It’s all about ‘America First.’ We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia, China, and everybody else have them … military equipment and other things from Russia and China. … I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.”
    Until Khashoggi’s murder, it was possible to emphasize the positive case for bin Salman, to argue that he was genuinely reforming Saudi Arabia’s society and economy. He had clipped the wings of the feared religious police in the kingdom and had given women greater freedoms, such as the right to drive and a larger role in the workplace.
    Bin Salman encouraged concerts and movie theaters in a society that had long banned both and he also started to end the rigid gender separation in the kingdom by, for instance, allowing women to attend sports events.
    He also promised a magical moment in the Middle East when the Arab states could deliver a peace deal with the Palestinians, while he was liberating his people from the stultifying yoke of Sunni Wahhabism that had nurtured so many of the 9/11 plotters. For many years, Washington had puzzled over whether Saudi Arabia was more of an arsonist or a firefighter when it came to the propagation of militant Islam. Bin Salman appeared to be a firefighter.

      Wolf Blitzer presses senator over meeting with world leader

    MBS also has a somewhat plausible plan for diversifying the heavily oil-dependent Saudi economy known as Vision 2030, to be financed in part by the sale of parts of the oil giant Aramco, which may be the world’s most valuable corporation with a market value that the Saudis hope is two trillion dollars.
    In March 2018, MBS even visited Hollywood and Silicon Valley, where he ditched his Arab robes in favor of a suit and where he was feted as a reformer by film stars and tech industry heavyweights.
    But after Khashoggi’s murder, the positive case for Mohammed bin Salman was largely submerged in the West, where he was increasingly viewed as an impetuous autocrat. In 2015, he had authorized the disastrous and ongoing war in neighboring Yemen, in which tens of thousands of civilians have been killed. He had also effectively kidnapped the Lebanese Prime Minister, a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, when he was on a trip to Saudi Arabia. And MBS led the blockade of his country’s neighbor, gas-rich Qatar, which continues to this day.
    In addition to his arrests of prominent clerics and dissidents, Bin Salman, in a palace coup, supplanted his cousin Mohamed bin Nayef as crown prince in 2017. Famously, MBS also imprisoned 200 rich Saudis at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh and had relieved them of more than $100 billion because of their purported corruption.
    Now Bin Salman faces what may be his most difficult foreign policy challenge yet: What to do about the drone and missile attacks earlier this month against the crown jewel of Saudi Arabia’s economy, the Aramco Abqaiq oil facility, an attack the crown prince and the Trump administration have plausibly blamed Iran for. The Iranians have denied involvement in the attacks
    This attack is particularly problematic for MBS, as he is also Saudi minister of defense and he has presided over a massive arms buildup, yet was not able to defend the kingdom against the missile and drone barrage that took down half of Saudi’s oil capacity, at least temporarily.

      Post-Khashoggi murder, why should U.S. believe anything Saudi Arabia has to say?

    The Iranian attack also poses a quandary for President Trump, who doesn’t want the United States to get embroiled in another war in the Middle East, even though he has embraced MBS as a close ally.
    On Sunday, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired an interview with bin Salman in which he said that he hoped that Saudi Arabia could reach a “political and peaceful solution” with Iran.
      One can only hope that MBS and Trump don’t launch a war against Iran, which has a large army, significant proxy forces around the Middle East and sophisticated ballistic missile systems. However, it’s hard to imagine them not responding at all since the Iranians have shown they can now attack with impunity a key node of the world’s energy markets.
      Mohammed bin Salman may be able to preside over the murder of a dissident journalist in Turkey with relative ease, but there is little in his conduct of foreign policy hitherto to suggest that he will skillfully deal with the Iranians.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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      NYT Publisher Details Troubling Moment U.S. Refused To Help Reporter In Danger

      The publisher of The New York Times said Monday that the Trump administration would not help one of its reporters who was about to be arrested in Egypt two years ago, saying the episode was just one of many instances of the U.S. retreating from its “historical role as a defender of the free press.”

      In a scathing op-ed about the growing threat to journalism around the globe, Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger wrote that in 2017 one of the paper’s reporters, Declan Walsh, was facing “imminent arrest” by government officials in Egypt. While such calls are alarming, Sulzberger said they’re standard for the paper, which has hundreds of reporters working in more than 160 countries. Under President Donald Trump, however, things took a shocking turn when an unnamed diplomat called Times leadership.

      “This particular call took a surprising and distressing turn,” Sulzberger wrote. “We learned the official was passing along this warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration. Rather than trying to stop the Egyptian government or assist the reporter, the official believed, the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. The official feared being punished for even alerting us to the danger.”

      Read the full editorial over at The New York Times.

      The publisher continued to note that rather than counting on the U.S. government to help protect Walsh from arrest, the Times instead reached out to Irish diplomats, who were at the reporter’s home within an hour and escorted him onto a flight before he could be detained (Walsh is Irish).

      “Those of us leading The Times find it hard not to worry, knowing we have colleagues on the ground where war is raging, disease is spreading and conditions deteriorating,” Sulzberger continued. “But we’ve long taken comfort in knowing that in addition to all our own preparations and all our own safeguards, there has always been another, critical safety net: the United States government, the world’s greatest champion of the free press. Over the last few years, however, something has dramatically changed.”

      After the editorial was published, many in the media called it “stunning” and “chilling.”

      The Trump administration has for years waged an information war against the American media, moving to cast the free press as “fake news” as soon as a newspaper or television network releases a story critical of the president. The Times notes Trump has used the phrase “fake news” more than 600 times on Twitter and said many other countries with far fewer protections for the press have since taken up the slogan.

      “My colleagues and I recently researched the spread of the phrase ‘fake news,’ and what we found is deeply alarming: In the past few years, more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents have used the term ‘fake news’ to justify varying levels of anti-press activity,” Sulzberger wrote.

      The shift in terminology has already had real-world consequences, including the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the directive of the Saudi government. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 252 reporters were imprisoned last year for doing their jobs. And 16 have already been killed in 2019.

      Sulzberger said Turmp’s disregard for the First Amendment has effectively “given foreign leaders permission to do the same.” But he issued a call for Americans and those abroad to work to protect journalism at a time when it’s needed most.

      “The true power of a free press is an informed, engaged citizenry. I believe in independent journalism and want it to thrive. I believe in this country and its values, and I want us to live up to them and offer them as a model for a freer and more just world,” he wrote. “The United States has done more than any other country to popularize the idea of free expression and to champion the rights of the free press. The time has come for us to fight for those ideals again.”

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      Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch in Saudi Arabia draws criticism

      Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch in Saudi Arabia draws criticism - CNN

      (CNN)The decision to stage the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia has drawn heavy criticism from human rights group Amnesty International.

      “Neutral grounds — LETS GO [sic],” the 29-year-old wrote on social media about the fight which is being dubbed the “Clash on the Dunes.”
      The seventh-round stoppage in Madison Square Garden was Joshua’s first defeat in his career and he will look to regain the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles he ceded to Ruiz, who was crowned Mexico’s first ever heavyweight champion.
        Saudi Arabia has hosted a number of fights in recent times, including Amir Khan’s win over Billy Dib and Callum Smith’s World Boxing Super Series victory against George Groves.
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        It also welcomed the opening race of the 2018-19 Formule E season, motorsport’s all-electric race series, and will stage the world’s richest horse race — with a prize purse of $20 million — next year.
        However, the middle east country’s “abysmal human rights record” has been called into question by Amnesty International UK, which urged Joshua to “inform himself of the human rights situation” ahead of the rematch.
        “If Anthony Joshua fights Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia, it’s likely to be yet another opportunity for the Saudi authorities to try to ‘sportswash’ their severely tarnished image,” said Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns.
        “Despite some long-overdue reforms on women’s rights, Saudi Arabia is currently in the grip of a sweeping human rights crackdown — with women’s rights activists, lawyers and members of the Shia minority community all being targeted.
        “There’s been no justice over the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen is carrying out indiscriminate attacks on homes, hospitals and market-places with horrific consequences for Yemeni civilians.”
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          Anthony Joshua on boxing, Brexit and Nigeria

        CNN has reached out to Joshua’s promoters and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia for comment but is yet to receive a response.
        However, in a press conference on Monday, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn officially announced that the fight would be taking place in a purpose-built, 15,000-seat venue in Diriyah.
        “Organizations bigger than us have taken events to Saudi Arabia. If [the country] is willing to invest in the sport of boxing for the right reasons, I’m in,” said Hearn.
        “Every promoter in boxing has been in talks with Saudi Arabia, Dubai etc. Mayweather and Pacquaio considered it, this is the first time it will actually happen.
        “I couldn’t believe how good the World Boxing Super Series final was there. Financially, it is viable. Formula One, the European golf tour, the Italia Cup, the biggest horse racing race, it all happens here.”
        Ruiz, who was born in California but has Mexican parents, had made calls for the rematch to be held in Tijuana where he made his professional debut in 2009.
          The Principality Stadium in Wales — the site of two professional victories for Joshua — had previously been thought of as the most likely site for the fight.
          “Ruiz had a moan about the UK,” added Hearn. “We said: there’s your neutral venue.”

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          Journalists Under Attack

          In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. Today, the coalition is issuing its sixth monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice.

          Paul Chouta, the Cameroon Web reporter who was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison. Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, was arrested on “anti-state” charges and will have been imprisoned for one year on August 27. He has been repeatedly interrogated by police, demanding that he reveal his sources.

          Here is the August list, ranked in order of urgency:

          1. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Stonewalling continues after new UN report implicates Saudi prince for journalist’s murder.

          Months after his brazen killing, and despite findings from the UN and the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.

          2. Azory Gwanda (Tanzania): Tanzanian official claims missing journalist is dead—then backtracks.

          Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, has been missing since November 21, 2017, and the government has failed to conduct an investigation or disclose what it knows. On July 10, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.

          3. Juan Pardinas (Mexico): Mexican newspaper editor targeted with death threats for criticizing new president.

          Mexican media organizations and journalists have recently reported a sharp increase in threats and online harassment over critical reporting of the López Obrador administration. Juan Pardinas, the editor-in-chief of Mexican newspaper Reforma, received a barrage of online harassment and threats after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the newspaper in April. López Obrador acknowledged the threats against Pardinas and said that his government had offered protective measures to the journalist.

          4. Paul Chouta (Cameroon): Journalist in maximum security prison blocked from seeing family.

          Cameroon Web reporter Paul Chouta was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. Chouta’s editor said he suspects the case was in retaliation for critical reporting. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison.

          5. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): Kyrgyz court upholds life sentence for documenting human rights abuses.

          Award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek, has spent nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite persistent international condemnation and calls for his release, a Kyrgyz court that had reviewed his case in light of new legislation ruled to uphold his life sentence on July 30.

          6. Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak (Turkey): Turkish journalist faces 30 years in solitary confinement.

          A commentator for opposition newspaper Özgür Düşünce and Can Erzincan TV, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak was arrested in 2016 and sentenced in February 2018 to life without parole for trying to overturn the constitution through her journalism. In a separate trial in January, she was sentenced to an additional five years for revealing state secrets. In Turkey, which has been the top jailer of journalists three years in a row, life sentences without parole equate to 30 years in solitary confinement, with limited visits.

          7. Marzieh Amiri (Iran): Imprisoned journalist denied healthcare after for covering May Day demonstrations.

          Iranian authorities arrested Marzieh Amiri, an economics reporter at Tehran-based newspaper Shargh Daily, as she covered May Day demonstrations, and her family has had limited contact with her since. Authorities have accused Amiri of committing crimes against national security without giving further details.

          8. Jones Abiri (Nigeria): Journalist re-arrested on terrorism and cybercrime charges.

          Jones Abiri, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Source, is behind bars on charges under Nigeria’s cybercrimes act, anti-sabotage act, and terrorism prevention act for crimes allegedly carried out in 2016. The charges are the same ones that a court threw out after he was held without access to his family or a lawyer from 2016 to 2018.

          9. Aasif Sultan (India): Journalist imprisoned one year without due process for covering conflict.

          Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, will have been imprisoned one year on August 27, arrested in 2018 and months later charged with “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists.” He has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal his sources by police. Sultan continues to be denied due process, with ongoing delays in his hearings.

          10. Truong Duy Nhat (Vietnam): Blogger who disappeared in Thailand imprisoned in Vietnam.

          Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese reporter with Radio Free Asia, went missing in January in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had applied for refugee status. In March, his daughter learned he was jailed without charge in a Hanoi detention center. Nhat was previously sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 in connection to his critical reporting on the government.

          According to CPJ research, the killers go unpunished in nine out of every 10 journalists murdered.

          The One Free Press Coalition contains 33 prominent international members including: AméricaEconomía; The Associated Press; Bloomberg News; The Boston Globe; BuzzFeed; CNN Money Switzerland; Corriere Della Sera; De Standaard; Deutsche Welle; Estadão; EURACTIV; The Financial Times; Forbes; Fortune; HuffPost; India Today; Insider Inc.; Le Temps; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Quartz; Radio Free Asia; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; Republik; Reuters; The Straits Times; Süddeutsche Zeitung; TIME; TV Azteca; Voice of America; The Washington Post; WIRED; and Yahoo News.

          One Free Press Coalition partners with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to identify the most-urgent cases for the list, which is updated and published on the first day of every month. News organizations throughout the world can join the Coalition by emailing info@onefreepresscoalition.com.


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