Jamal Khashoggi murder: Who are the five Saudis sentenced to death for killing Washington Post columnist

The brutal murder of Washington Post columnist inside the premises of the Saudi embassy in Turkey in 2018 had put the Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a spot after allegations emerged that he may have ordered his killing.

Earlier on Monday, Saudi Arabia announced that it has sentenced five Saudi nationals to death for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The verdict has only further fueled condemnation of the oil-rich nation.

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi YouTube grab

The only names that had emerged during the course of the trial were that of a top-aide to Saudi prince Salman -- Saud al-Qahtani, Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy intelligence chief, and Mohammed al-Otaibi, Saudi's consul general in Istanbul. All charges against them have been dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi journalist who was living in the US, was murdered on October 20, 2018, at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, who was a columnist for the Washington Post was visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce. He was killed and his body was dismembered inside the consulate. His remains are still to be found.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman Reuters

Khashoggi murder: Who are the five Saudi officials sentenced to death?

The verdict on Monday by the Saudi courts but has brought little respite for Riyadh, as many have termed the judgment a sham, while questioning the identity of the five Saudis sentenced to death.

Till now the Saudis have kept the identities of the convicted men hidden and even UN investigators have been repeatedly barred from hearings, except a handful of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi's family, were allowed to attend the sessions.

Turkey repeatedly had asked Saudi Arabia to extradite 18 Saudi suspects, including a 15-man hit team which Turkey believes flew into Istanbul hours before the killing.

UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, Agnes Callabard said: "Why the sentence today is anything BUT Justice for #JamalKhashoggi: a) the hearings were held behind closed door even though none of the justification for holding a trial in camera under international law applied to this particular trial."

"...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. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery," Callabard tweeted.

Karen Attiah, an editor with Washington Post termed the "trial" and "investigation" of Jamal Khashoggi's murder a complete sham. "Executing five nameless, faceless men without transparency and an investigation into the regime's responsibility is not justice. It's just more bloodshed," Attiah said in a Twitter post.

"Justice for Jamal Khashoggi's senseless, horrific death is not more senseless death. More anonymous bloodshed is not closure. The "trials" were in secret. For all we know, these five men who have been sentenced to death may not deserve the ultimate penalty," she said in another tweet.