Sept. 7 (UPI) — A Saudi Arabian court on Monday handed down prison sentences for eight people involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and overturned the death penalty for five.
The Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced five people to 20 years in prison for directly participating in Khashoggi’s slaying and dismemberment. Three others were sentenced for covering up the murder, one to 10 years in prison and two to seven years.
The court declined to identify any of the defendants.
In December, a Saudi court sentenced five people to die for their involvement in Khashoggi’s death. On Monday, those death sentences were overturned.
Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist, died Oct. 2, 2018, after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents he needed for his pending marriage. He was never observed leaving the building, nor was his body ever found.
His disappearance sparked a months-long investigation in which officials determined he had been dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate and.
The CIA and Western governments said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing himself, or he had tacit knowledge of the plot. The crown prince has accepted responsibility for Khashoggi’s death, “because it happened under my watch,” but has denied any personal involvement.
U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard said the Saudi trial was “the antithesis of justice.” She said Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution/”