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International News

Eight Sentenced in Saudi Arabia for Jamal Khashoggi Murder

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Eight Sentenced in Saudi Arabia for Jamal Khashoggi Murder

2020-09-08 14:16:28

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jamal Khashoggi (Image source: POMED via Wikimedia Commons)

Nearly two years later, there is finally an ending to the Jamal Khashoggi story, but it's an ending that is passed down with the understanding that there are some questions that will never be answered about his murder. Prosecutors called this the "final" ruling in the case as eight people were sentenced to serve between seven and 20 years in prison.

The eight defendants who were sentenced were not named, but all are believed to have been members of the group that traveled from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul in October 2018 and participated in killing and dismembering Khashoggi, who was known to be a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The trial was widely criticized by human rights groups for lacking transparency, as it was closed to the public.

"These verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent," tweeted UN human rights expert Agnés Callamard, who investigated the killing.

Leaders in the Middle East country have looked forward to moving past this after the story dominated headlines for many months. Horrific details were shared, including audio of Khashoggi being dismembered, and the crown prince was accused of ordering the hit. This was denied, but no plausible explanations were ever offered, and Khashoggi's remains where never found.

The 59-year-old Saudi national and Washington Post columnist went to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents he needed to marry fiancée Hatice Cengiz, while she waited for him in the car. He never exited the building and was not seen again.

From the beginning, Turkish officials laid blame on Saudi officials, pointing a finger at the crown prince, but the kingdom pled innocence. Donald Trump denied the prince would have been involved. However, a CIA investigation concluded the prince had ordered the assassination of Khashoggi. Eventually, the Saudis charged 17 of their own with the murder, yet denied responsibility, knowledge, and the participation of the crown prince.

Turkey is holding a separate trial for the murder and has indicted 20 Saudis on murder charges. However, none of them are in custody in Turkey.

Cengiz stated in a statement on Twitter, "The Saudi authorities are closing the case without the world knowing the truth of who is responsible for Jamal's murder. Who planned it, who ordered it, where is his body?"

Khashoggi's sons said in May they had forgiven those who killed their father, leading to five of the eight defendants being spared. The Saudi justice system allows victims' families in some cases to grant clemency to killers. Those five received 20 years in prison, and three others received between seven and 10 years. 

Late last year, Saud al-Qahtani, a royal media adviser, and Ahmed al-Assiri were exonerated by a Saudi court. This was after Saudi prosecutors had said they played central roles in the murder plot.

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