The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reduced the death sentences for the defendants for the killing Jamal Khashoggi to between seven and 20 years in prison. The decision has been condemned by the international community.
Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Ankara, Turkey, in 2018, was a dissident journalist and permanent US resident working for The Washington Post. His brutal murder, which sparked an international outcry allegedly involved the Crowned Prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). While MBS hasn’t been proved to be involved in the incident, and has denied any claims that he was involved, he did acknowledge that “it happened under my watch”. It is still unclear what happened to Khashoggi’s body, although original reports claimed it was dismembered and carried out of the embassy in pieces.
Monday’s court ruling reduced the original death sentences of five of the defendants to 20 years and the other three to between seven and ten years, according to Al Jazeera. The original ruling sentenced five of the defendants to life and the other three to long-term prison sentences. However, Salah Khashoggi, the victim’s son later announce the family had forgiven his killers, which allows them to be pardoned from execution in accordance with Islamic law.
Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia and reportedly received a hefty financial compensation from the royal court for his father’s killing. Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancé, who is Turkish, was the reason Khashoggi visited the Saudi embassy in the first place, to receive documentation required for their marriage, has been highly critical of the Saudi ruling.
“The ruling handed down today in Saudi Arabia again makes a complete mockery of justice,” Hatice Cengiz said 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 the body? These are the most important questions that remain totally unanswered.”
Meanwhile, the University of Beirut’s Rami Khouri told Al Jazeera that the question of MBS’ involvement in the case is a transgression of international law.
“The issue of who actually ordered it [the murder] is still a big question. The crown prince has been implicated – that’s a very serious accusation when it comes from the investigator at the United Nations and the CIA. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Khouri.
Khashoggi’s criticisms of the Saudi government included commentary on the brutal war being waged in Yemen, as well as the crackdown on Saudi human rights activists, writers and critics. He had been living in exile in the United States for roughly a year, just as MBS’s policies of crushing dissenting voices began.
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