‘Anything But Justice’ – Saudi Court Verdict in Khashoggi Death Case Widely Condemned
“Those who dispatched the death squad to Istanbul on a private jet and sought to sweep this murder under the rug, have been granted immunity.”
A Saudi Arabian court ruling on the 2018 killing of Saudi veteran Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi has sparked international condemnation by human rights groups and Turkey – where Khashoggi’s murder was carried out – as well as other countries.
The verdict, reported Monday, gave a death sentence to five unnamed persons but acquitted two others who were higher-level intelligence officials said to be close to the Kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia’s General Prosecutor claimed a total of 31 people were subject to the Khashoggi investigation and that 11 were charged and three sentenced to a total 24 years of imprisonment. The rest were acquitted.
“The investigation showed that the murder was not premeditated … The decision was taken at the spur of the moment,” Saudi Deputy General Prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said.
Saudi Verdict Condemned Worldwide
The trial and subsequent verdict were condemned as a mockery of justice by a number of human rights organizations and countries who see the verdict as Saudi Arabia’s effort to move on from the Khashoggi scandal without holding the real culprits accountable.
Ahmed Benchemsi, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Watch, told Aljazeera that the trial was “all but satisfactory.” Benchemsi claimed the case was marred by secrecy since the beginning and that no one yet knows the real identities of the masked men who perpetrated Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkey described the verdict as “scandalous” and claimed that the individuals who actually committed Khashoggi’s murder were granted immunity.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the ruling on Twiter saying, “Those who dispatched the death squad to Istanbul on a private jet and sought to sweep this murder under the rug, have been granted immunity.”
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on summary executions, who previously linked Khashoggi’s killing to MBS called the verdict “anything but justice,” adding that under international humanitarian law, the killing of Khashoggi was an “extrajudicial execution for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”
In response to the verdict, the Paris-based media rights watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, said justice had been “trampled on” by a court that handed out death sentences after a trial that did not respect international standards of justice.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf also condemned the verdict for its lack of transparency.
“Given the lack of transparency from the Saudi authorities, and in the absence of independent judiciary, only an international independent and impartial investigation can serve justice for Jamal Khashoggi,” Maalouf said.
However, the United States welcomed the Saudi verdict as “an important step.”
“Today’s verdicts were an important step in holding those responsible for this terrible crime accountable,” a US Department of State official told reporters in regards to the Saudi court ruling.
Salah Khashoggi, son of deceased Jamal Kashoggi, was reported as saying that the family of Jamal is relieved now after justice has been achieved.
“Today we have been granted justice as the children of the deceased, God willing, Jamal Khashoggi. We affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary at all levels, that it has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved,” Salah Khashoggi said in a Twitter post.