A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his family announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.
Saudi Arabia’s state television aired few details about the final verdicts issued by the Riyadh Criminal Court against the eight Saudi nationals. The previous death sentences were scraped in the final verdict.
Their names were not made public.
No senior officials implicated
The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for five. Another received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.
The trial was widely criticised by rights groups and an independent UN investigator, who noted that no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing was found guilty. The independence of the court was also brought into question.
“It’s held behind closed doors. The masterminds are not included in the trial. It’s not known why those 11 persons have been charged and no others, considering that there were 15 people in the kill team plus their accomplice in Riyadh,” UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard had said previously. “The trial does not include Saud al-Qahtani even though the prosecutor himself had identified him in a public statement as a person who had incited the team to abduct Mr Khashoggi.”
The Public Prosecution: final verdicts against 8 convicts in the case of the #Khashoggi's murder and 20 years imprisonment for 5 of the convicted and 10 years for a convict in the Khashoggi case#EKHNews_EN pic.twitter.com/gVcNCcHYsr
— Alekhbariya News (@EKHNews_EN) September 7, 2020
Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns for the Washington Post. He’d been living in exile in the United States for about a year as Prince Mohammed oversaw a crackdown in Saudi Arabia on human rights activists, writers and critics of the kingdom’s devastating war in Yemen.
Investigations by the CIA and UN claim a squad of 15 Saudis with diplomatic status, including a forensic expert carrying a bone saw, flew to Istanbul to intercept Khashoggi as he entered the Saudi consulate to arrange marriage papers.
Among those involved in the killing are a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office. The crown prince has denied any knowledge of the operation.
Hit squad contained forensic expert
According to the conversation transcript published by Sabah newspaper, Maher Mutreb, a member of the Saudi hit squad tells Khashoggi that he’ll be taken to Riyadh for an investigation because of an Interpol case against him. Khashoggi protests, saying there is no legal case against him.
The hit squad members also urged the journalist to send his son a message, telling him not to worry if he doesn’t hear from him, to which Khashoggi said he won’t write anything.
The transcript showed Mutreb saying: “Help us so that we can help you. Because in the end, we will take you to Saudi Arabia. And if you don’t help us, you know what will happen in the end.”
Khashoggi was killed in late 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
GVS News Desk