Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor known above all for his fealty to the country’s powerful crown prince, claims it has sentenced five men to death for the kidnap, torture, murder, and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi Arabian court sentenced five people to death and jailed three others over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which generated a worldwide outrage in 2018.

The given jail terms totalled 24 years related to the murder of the Washington Post journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

In a rare public statement about the case, a Saudi official said Mr Khashoggi’s killers decided to murder the writer after they had already arrived in Istanbul.

“Our investigations show that there was no premeditation to kill at the beginning of the mission,” Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said in a press conference broadcast by Saudi regime mouthpiece al-Arabiya TV.

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

Citing Saudi law, none of those convicted have yet been named, even as dissidents accused of national security offences are regularly named and smeared in Saudi media outlets. Under Saudi law, death sentences must be confirmed in appeal and upheld by a high court.

At least 10 officials, including two top-ranking officials involved in the killing of the 59-year-old Washington resident, were exonerated.

The public prosecutor’s office said Saud al-Qahtani, a high-profile Saudi royal adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was investigated but released without charges.

The former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri was also released by the Saudi authorities for “insufficient evidence”.

In Turkey, Yasin Aktay, a member of Turkey’s ruling party and a friend of Khashoggi’s, criticised the verdict, saying the Saudi court had failed to bring the real perpetrators to justice.

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