Saudi court overturns death sentences over Khashoggi murder

Turkey criticizes Saudi Arabian court after it overturns five death sentences over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Elad Benari ,

Vigil for Jamal Khashoggi
Vigil for Jamal Khashoggi

A Saudi court on Monday overturned five death sentences over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder and sent eight defendants to jail sentences of between seven and 20 years.

"Five of the convicts were given 20 years in prison and another three were jailed for 7-10 years," AFP reported, citing the official Saudi Press Agency.

None of the defendants were named in what was described as the final court ruling on the killing which had sparked an international outcry.

The verdict came after Khashoggi's sons said in May they had "pardoned" the killers, a move condemned as a "parody of justice" by a UN expert.

The family's pardon spared the lives of five unnamed people sentenced to death over the 2018 murder in a December court ruling.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, after initially denying Turkish claims that he was murdered.

At the same time, the Saudi leadership claimed Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” operation and denies any connection to the murder.

The murder resulted in tensions between lawmakers and the White House. President Donald Trump had reaffirmed his support for Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Khashoggi, insisting the US-Saudi Arabian alliance is beneficial not only for American interests, but also for those of Israel.

Lawmakers from both parties, meanwhile, had called for a strong US response to Khashoggi's murder.

Meanwhile on Monday, Turkey said the Saudi court ruling did not meet global expectations.

"The final verdict that a Saudi court issued today regarding journalist Jamal Khashoggi's execution inside the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul fell short of meeting the expectations of Turkey and the international community," Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, wrote on Twitter, according to AFP.

"We still don't know what happened to Khashoggi's body, who wanted him dead or if there were local collaborators – which casts doubt on the credibility of the legal proceedings in KSA," Altun added.