Saudi scraps death sentences over Khashoggi murder, jails eight

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman smiles as he attends the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday Sept. 7 2020 in the case of slain Washi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman smiles as he attends the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday Sept. 7 2020 in the case of slain Washi

The Saudi Public Prosecution convicted eight people in the murder case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul almost two years ago.

Five people were sentenced to 20 years in prison for their involvement in the murder, according to the prosecutor.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his impending wedding.

Khashoggi was killed in late 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the Saudi Consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Riyadh has described the murder as a "rogue" operation, but both the Central Intelligence Agency and a United Nations special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

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At an earlier stage of the trial in December, the court sentenced five people to death and three to jail saying then that the killing was not premeditated, but carried out "at the spur of the moment".

Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court for his father's killing.

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

At the time of his killing Khashoggi had been living in exile in the U.S. amid a crackdown in his home country on human rights activists, writers and critics of the region's military involvement in Yemen. The independence of the Riyadh Criminal Court has also been questioned.

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