GENEVA (Dispatches) – The Saudi trial into the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has lacked transparency and fallen short on assigning accountability for the crime, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday.
A Saudi court Monday overturned five death sentences over Khashoggi’s murder in a final ruling that jailed eight defendants to between seven and 20 years.
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 ruling came four months after his family forgave his killers and enabled death sentences to be set aside.
UN spokesman Rupert Colville, noting that the United Nations opposes the death penalty, told a Geneva briefing: "This is a case where there has not been proper transparency in the justice process, those responsible should be prosecuted and given sentences commensurate with the crime.”
"There is a whole issue of transparency and accountability in the case,” he said.
Khashoggi -- a royal family insider turned critic -- was killed and dismembered at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a case that tarnished the reputation of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A 59-year-old critic of the crown prince, Khashoggi was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have not been found.
Turkey is dissatisfied with the sentences in the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi murder case, presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said.
"The final verdict that a Saudi court issued regarding journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s execution inside the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey fell short of meeting the expectations of Turkey and the international community,” Altun wrote on Twitter.
"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 said Turkey was urging the Saudi authorities to cooperate with the ongoing murder investigation in Turkey.
Riyadh has described the murder as a "rogue” operation, but both the CIA and a United Nations special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.
Agnes Callamard - the United Nations’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions - also found "credible evidence” that Prince Mohammed and other senior Saudi officials were liable for the killing in an investigative report published in June 2019.