Jamal Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia convicts eight people over journalist killing as family pardon spares five from execution

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Saudi Arabia has convicted eight people over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, after his family announced pardons that spared five from execution.

The Washington Post columnist was drugged and dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.

On Monday the Riyadh Criminal Court issued final verdicts against eight people. Five of those convicted have each received 20 year sentences, while one was given a ten year sentence and the remaining two were handed seven year sentences.

Their names were not made public and Saudi Arabia’s state television aired few details about the final verdicts.

Mr Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, had previously asked a Turkish court that all persons responsible for his killing to be brought to justice.

The trial was widely criticised by rights groups and an independent UN investigator, who noted that no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing were found guilty.

The independence of the court was also brought into question.

Mr Khashoggi, who was a United States resident, had walked into his country’s consulate on October 2 2018, for an appointment to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance. He never walked out.

“He was called to that consulate with great betrayal and deception,” the private DHA news agency quoted Ms Cengiz as telling the court during her evidence.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate.

They included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers and individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office. Turkish officials allege Mr Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.

Turkey, a rival of Saudi Arabia, apparently had the Saudi Consulate bugged and has shared audio of the killing with the CIA, among others.

Prior to his killing, Mr Khashoggi had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in columns for the Washington Post.

Saudi Arabia had initially offered shifting accounts about Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The crown prince has denied any knowledge of the operation.