Jamal Khashoggi killers avoid execution as widely criticised Saudi Arabia trial wraps up

Photo: Credit Reuters

Five people have been spared execution by a Saudi Arabian court over the murder of journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi, after his family said they did not seek the death penalty.

The 59-year-old columnist for The Washington Post was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Now Riyadh’s criminal court has handed down rulings for eight Saudi nationals implicated in the killing, with five due to serve a maximum sentence of 20 years after Khashoggi’s family asked for their death penalties to be commuted.

The three others saw their sentences – spanning between seven and 10 years – upheld by the court. Saudi state television aired few details about the final verdicts, and did not make public the names of those sentenced. The trial has been criticised by human rights organisations and an independent UN investigator, who noted that no senior officials, nor those suspected of having orchestrated the killing, had been found guilty.

“Under international human rights law, the killing of Mr Khashoggi was an extrajudicial execution for which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be held responsible,” the UN’s Agnes Callamard said.

“This case demands an investigation into the chain of command to identify the masterminds, as well as those who incited, allowed or turned a blind eye to the murder, such as the crown prince. At the time of his killing, Khashoggi had been living in exile in the US amid a crackdown in his home country on human rights activists, writers and critics of Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in Yemen.

A forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office have all been implicated in the killing. However, the crown prince himself has denied any knowledge of the operation.

Source: The Independent