A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death and three others to prison in connection with last year's killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul.
The public prosecutor said in a statement the death sentences were for those who committed and directly participated in the murder. Those sent to prison were given sentences "for their role in covering up this crime."
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The decision Monday came after largely secret proceedings that also cleared Saud al-Qahtani, the former top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of being involved in Khashoggi's death.
Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations, called the trial a "mockery" in a thread explaining flaws in the investigation posted to her Twitter Monday.
"Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery," she wrote.
j) Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery.— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) December 23, 2019
Paris-based media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said justice was "trampled" by the decision.
"We can interpret [the decision] as a means to permanently silence the suspects, a way to prevent them from speaking to better cover up the truth," the group's head, Christophe Deloire wrote on Twitter Monday.
La condamnation à mort ne permet pas de rendre la justice. Nous pouvons l'interpréter comme un moyen de faire taire à jamais des suspects, une manière de les empêcher de parler pour mieux camoufler la vérité.— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) December 23, 2019
Turkey condemned the decision as "far from justice."
It is not only a legal but also a conscientious responsibility to shed light on this murder committed in our territory and to punish all those responsible," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
The Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of the Saudi government was slain and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Saudi Arabia initially denied the killing took place, insisting Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate. It later blamed rogue agents and has denied the crown prince had any knowledge of the operation.
United Nations extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard issued a report in June that found "credible evidence" linking Prince Mohammed to the killing.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has also assessed the crown prince ordered the killing.