Saudi Arabia announced Monday that eight of its citizens have been convicted by a Saudi court for the Oct. 8, 2018 grizzly slaying of journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate in Istanbul. A prior 2019 trial had sentenced five to execution, but was later overturned.
The killing drove headlines for months and temporarily resulted in the international isolation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) during much of the year following, given it was clear that it was an officially sanctioned state hit.
The trial has been largely secretive, with the names of the convicted yet to be revealed. The AP reports five of the eight were sentenced to 20 years in prison, two issued seven year sentences, and one to serve ten.
The court sentences are sure to drive continued outrage, some of the criticism coming from the UN over the opaque proceedings, as they are not only relatively light considering how gruesome Khashoggi's murder and dismemberment was, but also given many see the group of convicted as mere lower level scapegoats.
Both UN and CIA investigations have strongly pointed the finger to crown prince MbS to either ordering the killing or at least knowing about it.
AP reports of the convicted individuals' identifies that "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."
Saudi court issues final verdicts in the Khashoggi murder after his family decided to forgo the death penalty: 20 years prison terms for five men each, two men get 7 years each and another man gets 10 years https://t.co/CNT2yYxYsq— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) September 7, 2020
International reports previously slammed Saudi trials related to Khashoggi as a mere exercise in scapegoating:
UN investigator Agnes Callamard concluded that Khashoggi fell victim to a Saudi state-sponsored premeditated extrajudicial execution.
She said the murder was an “international crime over which other states should claim universal jurisdiction”.
This will not happen, although both the Saudi investigation and trial have been conducted for show rather than to secure justice for Khashoggi and closure for his fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
It's widely believed Khashoggi's Saudi family and children came under pressure to "pardon" the killers, a right afforded them under Saudi law, which is why this new trial was not a capital case.
Since the killing Riyadh has issued multiple conflicting narratives - all of which appear crafted to shield MbS and the royal family from any ultimate blame.