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Saudi scraps death sentences, jails eight over Khashoggi murder

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A Saudi court on Monday reversed five death sentences over journalist Jamal 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 verdict came after Khashoggi’s sons said in May that 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, which was lambasted by human rights groups after two top aides to the crown prince were exonerated.

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.

According to Turkish officials, Khashoggi, a 59-year-old critic of the crown prince, was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate.

His remains have not been found.

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.

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