Saudi court delivers final verdict for 8 people in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death

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Final sentences have been handed down for eight people implicated in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a spokesman for the Saudi Arabian prosecutor’s office said on Monday.

The Riyadh Criminal Court has handed down judgments against eight people in the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, the spokesperson said. Saudi Arabia previously sentenced five people to death in December for Khashoggi’s murder.

Monday’s convictions came with varying sentences: five people were sentenced to 20 years in prison, another to 10 years and the other two were sentenced to seven years in prison.

None of the newly convicted were identified on Monday.

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The death of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and US permanent resident, made international headlines as more details were revealed regarding his death. Khashoggi was living in exile at the time of his death and openly criticized Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his columns.

Khashoggi disappeared on October 2, 2018, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for her divorce in order to continue her pending marriage. He previously attempted to obtain these documents in Washington DC, but was directed to Istanbul instead.

Turkish prosecutors concluded that Khashoggi had been strangled or suffocated to death before his body was dismembered. The CIA found that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, a claim which was strongly rejected by Riyadh.

A 101-page United Nations report concluded that while it is not known who gave the decisive order to kill Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia was ultimately responsible for his death. The report quotes an audio recording from the Saudi consulate in which a voice tells Khashoggi that there is an order from Interpol to return him to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi officials have offered various accounts of what led to Khashoggi’s death. Former Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in 2018 that Khashoggi’s death was the result of a “rogue operation”.

Prosecutors said after last year’s convictions that there was no premeditated plan to kill Khashoggi, and that a group of men intended to kidnap the journalist but chose to kill him in because of the difficulty of moving it.

But Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said in 2018 that evidence provided by Turkish investigators indicated that “the suspects in the incident had committed their act with premeditated intent.”

Saudi Arabia’s trials in Khashoggi’s death have been criticized for the almost total secrecy in which they were conducted and for the fact that no senior officials have been convicted of the death.

Charlene Gubash reported from Cairo, Egypt. Doha Madani reported from New York.

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