Saudi Arabia sentences 8 people to prison in Khashoggi murder case

Saudi media report defendants handed between seven and 20 years in prison over the journalist’s murder in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia has convicted eight people charged in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, state media reported on Monday.

A court handed 20-year sentences to five people charged in the murder case, and three others were sentenced to between seven to 10 years, it said.

Vigil is held at Saudi Embassy for Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
FILE PHOTO: The Committee to Protect Journalists and other press freedom activists hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Saudi Embassy to mark the anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Wednesday evening in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger.

“Five of the convicts were given 20 years in prison and another three were jailed for 7-10 years,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecution service.

The final court verdict comes after Khashoggi’s sons said in May they had “pardoned” the killers.

Khashoggi went missing on October 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish authorities later revealed he was murdered inside the consulate by a Saudi hit squad.

Khashoggi’s body, believed to have been dismembered, has not been found.

‘Credible evidence’

A 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi wrote critically of the Saudi government.

Questions remain over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) role in ordering the killing, with several western intelligence agencies alluding he had knowledge of the operation beforehand.

The Saudi government called the assassination a “rogue operation” after repeatedly denying any involvement for weeks.

Agnes Callamard – the United Nations’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – also found “credible evidence” that Prince Mohammed and other senior Saudi officials were liable for the killing in an investigative report published in June 2019.

The assassination of Khashoggi – a US resident – prompted a worldwide backlash against Saudi Arabia and caused lasting damage to MBS’s image in the international arena.

In March, Turkish prosecutors indicted 20 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi’s murder, including two former senior aides to Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

According to the indictment, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri is accused of establishing a hit team and planning the murder.

Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal court and media adviser, is accused of instigating and leading the operation by giving orders to the hit team. Other suspects are mainly Saudi military and intelligence officers who allegedly took part.

AL JAZEERA NEWS

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