1134 GMT June 30, 2022
A Saudi Arabian court on Monday jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, state media reported, four months after his family forgave his killers and enabled death sentences to be set aside, Reuters reported.
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville, noting that the United Nations opposes the death penalty, told a Geneva briefing: “This is a case where there has not been proper transparency in the justice process, those responsible should be prosecuted and given sentences commensurate with the crime.”
“There is a whole issue of transparency and accountability in the case,” he said.
Trial far from expectations
Turkey on Monday said the Saudi court ruling did not meet global expectations, AFP reported.
The trial “fell short of meeting the expectations of Turkey and the international community,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, wrote on Twitter.
Many Saudis hailed Monday’s ruling in comments on Twitter, a platform favored by pro-government supporters. Some said the verdict ended one of the most difficult political cases the kingdom has faced, while others said it makes Saudi Arabia the “land of justice” and a “country where rights are never lost,” Al Jazeera reported.
Khalil Jahshan, from the Arab Center in Washington, D.C., noted the prosecutor’s office said the announcement “closes the case forever.”
“Most importantly, where is the body of Jamal Khashoggi? With these sentences, I assume they have found out what happened to his body,” Jahshan, a family friend, told Al Jazeera.
“The whole verdict seems to me to have been manipulated. According to legal practice in Saudi Arabia, the family has a right to commute any sentence, and the family has issued such a declaration – most probably under duress. I don’t think it was done freely, knowing the family.”
The Khashoggi family’s lawyer, Motasem Khashoggi, told Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that the family welcomes the “fair and deterrent” ruling and is satisfied by it.
“The verdict is fair and deterrent to any criminal ... we as a family opted for applying (Islamic) Sharia laws since the beginning and there is no court in the world that applies Sharia rules like in Saudi Arabia,” Khashoggi told the newspaper, Reuters reported.
“We have delegated our command to God and to our rulers, who have fulfilled their promise, all our thanks, appreciation, gratitude and loyalty goes to them,” he added.
But Khashoggi’s fiancée said the eight jailed were not the only ones responsible for the murder.
“The Saudi authorities are closing the case without the world knowing the truth of who is responsible for Jamal’s murder,” Hatice Cengiz wrote in a statement. “Who planned it, who ordered it, where is his body?”
In December, the court sentenced five people to death and three to jail, saying the killing was not premeditated but carried out on “the spur of the moment.”
The trial was also widely criticized 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, AP reported.
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 US for about a year as the prince oversaw a crackdown in Saudi Arabia on human rights activists, writers and critics of the kingdom’s devastating war in Yemen.
Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
Among those ensnared 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.