A Saudi court reduced the death sentences of five men convicted in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi to 20-year prison terms and handed shorter sentences to three other nationals.
The public prosecutor declared the case closed nearly two years after Mr. Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, undermining Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation among some of Saudi Arabia’s most important international partners and imperiling his economic reform program, despite his continued support from President Trump.
The final verdicts came after the sons of Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudis in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, decided to forgive the killers of their father last May, in a move that paved the way for the official pardon.
In December 2019, a Saudi court sentenced 5 people to death and imprisoned others in the Khashoggi case. The Saudi Public Prosecutor said at the time that “the killing was the result of a rogue operation,” and that “11 people (whose names were not disclosed) are being tried in the case.”
Suspicions revolved around those close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who directly carried out the assassination that took place inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and shocked the world with its brutality.
However, the Al Saud authorities did not bring any charges against Saud Al-Qahtani, a former advisor to the royal court, after being interrogated “due to the lack of evidence.” Ahmed Al-Asiri, deputy head of General Intelligence, was also released due to the “lack of evidence.” The Saudi consul in Istanbul, Muhammad al-Otaibi, was acquitted.
These Saudi rulings came at the time despite the issuance of an international investigation led by the UN investigator, Anis Callamard, which concluded that the assassination was carried out with “higher orders.”
Khashoggi, 59, disappeared after entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage, but it was later revealed that he was killed, and his body dismembered, which Saudi Arabia initially denied.
After 18 days of his disappearance, and after a wide global condemnation campaign, Riyadh acknowledged the killing of Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul following a “quarrel” with Saudi officials, and said that it had arrested 18 Saudis over the incident, while not clarifying the location of his body.