A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced eight people to prison, in a final ruling on the case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Monday’s sentencing overturns a decision handed down last December, condemning five of the accused to death.
The ruling was still slammed as “a parody of justice” by UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard and Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz who said the court’s verdict was a “farce”.
Callamard had condemned the decision by Saudi Arabia to execute five men in connection with the murder of the journalist, describing it as a “travesty”.
“Travesty of investigation, prosecution and justice continues,” she had said. She had compared this investigation to the ongoing trial on the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Callamard had drawn up a report in 2019 into his death and found credible evidence calling for further investigation into the involvement of the Saudi crown prince and top government officials.
In a new ruling last Monday, five people charged with the assassination received a 20-year prison sentence, one was sentenced to 10 years and another two defendants were given seven-year sentences. The defendants were not identified.
Saudi journalist Khashoggi was a Washington Post opinion writer who was murdered in 2018. He was tortured and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence services believe the journalist was murdered by a team of Saudi operatives, on orders of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Five of the accused were previously condemned to death, but the court has commuted their sentence because the family of the journalist had pardoned them.
The other three accused had their sentence, ranging between seven to 10 years in prison, upheld.
Callamard said following Monday’s court decision: “These verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process, which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent”.
#JamalKhashoggi: 1.The Saudi Prosecutor performed one more act today in this parody of justice. But these verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent. https://t.co/nt4n2CqS21
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) September 7, 2020
She pointed out that while the five hitmen have been sentenced to prison, the high level officials who organised the execution of the journalist remain free.
“These verdicts cannot be allowed to whitewash what happened,” she said.
Callamard welcomed the decision to commute the death sentence to a prison term and called on US authorities to release the intelligence it has gathered on the killing of Khashoggi.
“While formal justice in Saudi Arabia cannot be achieved, truth-telling can,” she added.