Saudi Arabian courts have handed down guilty verdicts to eight people involved in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Five received 20-year prison sentences, while three received lesser terms.
The Saudi public prosecutor handed down its guilty verdict on Monday, according to local media. Five defendants were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while the other three defendants were locked up for a period of seven to 10 years. The verdict is final, the Saudi Press Agency reported, meaning it cannot be appealed.
Monday’s sentencing was the second round of judgments handed out to the group of Saudis said to be responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.
In December, five Saudis accused of direct involvement in the journalist’s killing were sentenced to death, while another three received jail terms totaling 24 years.
That verdict was handed down in private, and international authorities condemned the proceedings for failing to get the facts on record.
In July, a separate proceeding against the 20 Saudis alleged to have taken part in the killing began in Istanbul. The defendants there are being tried in absentia, as Saudi authorities have refused to have them extradited.
Khashoggi, who wrote for several western outlets including the Post, was a known critic of the Saudi royal family. He was killed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in October 2018, having apparently been lured there on the pretext of obtaining paperwork for his upcoming wedding. While he was reportedly dismembered and buried on the property, his remains have not been found.
The journalist’s family released a statement in May saying they pardoned Khashoggi’s killers – which, under Saudi law, spares them from the death penalty.
The Saudi government initially denied Khashoggi had died at all, then claimed a fight had broken out while the journalist was being interrogated. They later changed their story once again, claiming he was a victim of a “rogue operation.” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ultimately took responsibility for Khashoggi’s death last September, though he continued to deny accusations that he had personally ordered the dissident’s killing.
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