UN human rights investigator Agnes Callamard on Monday called the Saudi prosecutor's verdict on the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul a "parody of justice" which spared "high-level" plotters.
Saudi prosecutors in Riyadh convicted eight people the same day in Khashoggi's murder case after he was killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul nearly two years ago.
"The Saudi Prosecutor performed one more act today in this parody of justice. But these verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy," tweeted Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.
"They came at the end of a process which was neither fair nor just, or transparent," she said.
The semi-official Al-Arabiya TV channel had reported that five were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while three others received jail sentences between seven and 10 years.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a Saudi operatives group shortly after he entered the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.
"The five hitmen are sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but the high-level officials who organized and embraced the execution of Jamal Khashoggi have walked free from the start -- barely touched by the investigation and trial," Callamard tweeted.
"As for the individual responsibility of the person on top of the State, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he has remained well protected against any kind of meaningful scrutiny in his country," said Callamard.
She said the verdicts could not be allowed to whitewash what happened and they should not any pressure on governments.
Callamard stressed that Monday’s decision should not relieve the pressure on governments to bring true criminals to light, and she cited especially the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“More than ever, the US Intelligence Services, including the Director of National Intelligence, must release the intelligence assessment of MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] responsibilities for the killing of #JamalKhashoggi. While formal justice in Saudi Arabia cannot be achieved, truth-telling can," said the UN investigator.
Callamard said she welcomed the death penalty being commuted.
"Had such sentences been carried out, they would have amounted to yet more arbitrary killings by the State of Saudi Arabia, and permanent silencing of key witnesses to the execution," she said.
Riyadh offered various, conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building while seeking to shift blame for his death on a botched rendition operation carried out by rogue agents.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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