Khashoggi’s case is closed without the world knowing the truth
Khashoggi’s case is closed without the world...
A Saudi court on Monday has overturned five death sentences over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, in a final ruling that jailed eight defendants for between seven and 20 years. None of the defendants were named. Khashoggi’s sons said in May that they had “pardoned” the killers, a move condemned as a “parody of justice” by a UN expert. “The ruling handed down today in Saudi Arabia again makes a complete mockery of justice,” said Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé in a statement posted on Twitter.
An independent UN human rights investigator called the overturned verdict of Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor in the murder of Khashoggi a "parody of justice" that spared "high-level" plotters. "The five hitmen are sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but the high-level officials who organized and embraced the execution of Jamal Khashoggi have walked free from the start – barely touched by the investigation and trial," “the verdicts had no legal or moral legitimacy, following a trial that was neither fair nor just nor transparent.” Ms. Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions tweeted.
Khashoggi, 59, was killed and dismembered at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, Riyadh has described the murder as a “rogue” operation, but the Saudi kingdom’s attempts to cover it up and change the narrative of how it was carried out, has damaged Prince Mohammed’s international reputation. His body has not been found.
What did Saudi officials say and do?
For more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia consistently denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's fate. Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg News that the journalist had left the consulate "after a few minutes or one hour". "We have nothing to hide," he added. But in a change of tune on 20 October, the Saudi government said a preliminary investigation by prosecutors had concluded that the journalist died during a "fight" after resisting attempts to return him to Saudi Arabia. Later, a Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.
On 15 November, Saudi Arabia's deputy public prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said the murder was ordered by the head of a "negotiations team" sent to Istanbul by the Saudi deputy intelligence chief to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom "by means of persuasion" or, if that failed, "by force". Investigators concluded that Khashoggi was forcibly restrained after a struggle and injected with a large amount of a drug, resulting in an overdose that led to his death, Mr Shalaan said. His body was then dismembered and handed over to a local "collaborator" outside the consulate for disposal, he added.
Five individuals had confessed to the murder, Mr Shalaan asserted, adding: "[The crown prince] did not have any knowledge about it."
The Saudi public prosecution said in late September 2018 that a total of 31 individuals were investigated over the killing and that 21 of them were arrested. In January 2019, 11 individuals - who have not been named - were put on trial. Human Rights Watch said the trial, which took place behind closed doors, did not meet international standards and that authorities "obstructed meaningful accountability". In December 2019, the court sentenced five individuals to death for "committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim". Three others were handed prison sentences totalling 24 years for "covering up this crime and violating the law", while the remaining three were found not guilty.
Ms Callamard dismissed that assertion as "utterly ridiculous" and Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, called the verdict "not acceptable". But Khashoggi's son Salah, who lives in Saudi Arabia, tweeted: "We affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary at all levels, that it has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved." In May 2020, Salah Khashoggi announced that he and his brothers were "pardoning those who killed our father, seeking reward from God almighty".
Both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing. Khashoggi, who was living in exile, had been openly critical of Crown Prince Mohammed in his columns for the Washington Post. A 101-page U.N. report concluded that while it may be unclear who issued the decisive order to kill Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia was ultimately responsible for his death. The report cited an audio recording from the Saudi Consulate in which a voice tells Khashoggi that there is an order from Interpol to send him back to Saudi Arabia.