Intel: Saudi court hands out death sentences in Khashoggi killing

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A Saudi court handed down death sentences today to five people linked to the 2018 slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, while others will serve long jail sentences or be acquitted. The CIA had previously assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the killing at a consular facility in Istanbul.

Why it matters: The Donald Trump administration, which has tied itself closely to Riyadh, has said repeatedly that Saudi Arabia would lead the probe into Khashoggi’s death, prompting criticism from US lawmakers who thought the White House wasn’t doing enough to hold the Gulf partner accountable.

Monday’s sentences may do little to curb anger toward the Gulf kingdom in Congress. Two key members of the crown prince’s inner circle, deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and adviser Saud al-Qahtani, have been cleared in the case.

Lingering questions: Even after the verdict was announced, Saudi Arabia’s foreign allies and rights groups still had questions about the trial. "The trial has been closed to the public and to independent monitors, with no information available as to how the investigation was carried out," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East research director.

What’s next: Amnesty and other rights groups are calling for an independent international investigation after United Nations experts were sidelined in the final proceedings.

Know more: More than a year after Khashoggi’s murder, Congress has sought to keep a spotlight on the Washington Post contributor’s killing.

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Found in: murder, congress, united nations, death penalty, jamal khashoggi, us-saudi relations, saudi arabia free speech

Jack Detsch is Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent. Based in Washington, Detsch examines US-Middle East relations through the lens of the Defense Department. Detsch previously covered cybersecurity for Passcode, the Christian Science Monitor’s project on security and privacy in the Digital Age. Detsch also served as editorial assistant at The Diplomat Magazine and worked for NPR-affiliated stations in San Francisco. On Twitter: @JackDetsch_ALM, Email: jdetsch@al-monitor.com.

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