Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death and three more to jail terms over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October last year.
The country’s public prosecutor said on Monday a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser was investigated but not charged.
Mr Khashoggi was a US 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 October 2nd, 2018, where he was 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, Saudi public prosecutor Shalaan al-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”.
The three sentenced to prison were given various sentences totalling 24 years “for their role in covering up this crime and violating the law”.
Mr 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, had discussed Mr Khashoggi’s activities before he entered the Saudi consulate with the team which went on to kill him.
The prosecutor said Mr Qahtani acted in co-ordination with deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who he said had ordered Mr 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 Mr Asiri went on trial, Mr Qahtani did not.
On Monday Mr Shalaan said Mr Asiri has been released due to insufficient evidence, and that Mr Qahtani had been investigated but was not charged and had been released.
The court also ruled the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi, was not guilty. He was released from prison after the verdicts were announced, according to state TV.
The trials of the accused were carried out in near-total secrecy, although a handful of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Mr Khashoggi’s family, were allowed to attend the sessions.
Mr Khashoggi had walked into his country’s consulate in Istanbul to collect documents that would allow him to wed his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside. – Agencies