A Saudi court on Monday (September 7th) overturned in a final verdict the five death sentences handed down for the assassination of the journalist critical of the power Jamal Khashoggi, sentencing them instead to terms of up to twenty years in prison, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “Five defendants were sentenced to twenty years in prison and three others to terms ranging from seven to ten years in prison”, the news agency said, citing the prosecutor’s office.
This judgment, presented as a final verdict, was immediately criticized by the special rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on summary executions, Agnès Callamard, whose opinion does not commit the international organization, and who called him on Twitter as “New act” in this “Parody of justice”. “These verdicts have no legal or moral legitimacy. They were returned at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor fair, nor transparent ”, she asserted.
Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist, for her part, described Monday as ” prank call “ the verdict delivered by the Saudi justice system. “The international community will not accept this farce, she tweeted. Saudi authorities have closed this case without the world knowing the truth about who is responsible for Jamal’s murder. “
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also denounced the trial, beyond the verdict. “This trial without public or journalists did not allow to know the truth and to understand what happened on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul [où Jamal Khashoggi a été assassiné] and who had previously given the order to commit this state crime ”, the secretary general of the NGO, Christophe Deloire, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Since the start of legal proceedings in Saudi Arabia, there has been no “Only repeated attempts at concealment”, said Ines Osman, director of MENA, a human rights NGO based in Geneva.
This verdict comes after Jamal Khashoggi’s sons announced in May “To have forgiven” its killers. In the past, his eldest son, Salah Khashoggi, had claimed to have “Full confidence” in the Saudi justice system.
In April 2019, the Washington post claimed that the journalist’s four children, including Salah, had received multi-million dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars a month by authorities. The family then denied.
Collaborator of Washington post and critic of the Saudi regime after being close to it, Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated and his body cut into pieces at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he had gone to retrieve a document. He was 59 years old at the time of his death and his remains have never been found. This assassination plunged Saudi Arabia into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, known as “MBS”, designated by Turkish and American officials as the sponsor of the assassination.
After denying the assassination, then advancing several versions of the facts, Riyadh claimed that it was committed by Saudi agents who allegedly acted alone and without receiving orders from their leaders. The Saudi prosecutor has cleared the crown prince. The latter declared on American television PBS that he accepted responsibility for the assassination, because it occurred “Under his reign”, while denying having had knowledge of it before.
Saudi justice itself had taken up the case and, in December 2019, following an opaque trial, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three others to prison terms, out of a total of eleven people charged. The other three had been “Bleached”.
Those convicted on Monday have not been identified. On the other hand, the services of the Attorney General stressed that this new judgment put “End” to the case, marking Riyadh’s desire to definitively turn the page.
Judgment in Turkey
On Monday evening, Ankara ruled that this verdict was “Far from meeting the expectations of Turkey and the international community”, as Fahrettin Altun, spokesperson for the Turkish presidency wrote on Twitter.
Turkish justice, for its part, began, in early July, to try in absentia twenty Saudis, including two close to the crown prince, the former adviser Saoud Al-Qahtani and the former intelligence number two, General Ahmed Al. -Assiri, identified as the sponsors of the murder.
The former has been investigated in Saudi Arabia, but has not been charged “Due to insufficient evidence”, and the second, indicted, was acquitted on the same grounds, according to the Saudi prosecution. The two men were officially ousted from the political circle of the Crown Prince.