Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and fierce critic of the Saudi government who lived in exile in the US, was killed by a Saudi squad in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October 2018. The Saudi government gave conflicting information about the circumstances of his murder, trying to cover up the truth. The IFJ has repeatedly called for an independent investigation and an end to impunity for Khashoggi’s murderers.
The first trial held in December 2019 behind closed doors handed the death penalty to five suspects and prison terms totaling more than 24 years to three other more suspects.
In May 2020, Khashoggi’s sons pardoned the killers, granting mercy to the five people who initially received death sentences and paving the way for the final ruling on 7 September that commuted their sentences. A report by the Washington Post said that Khashoggi's sons had received houses and monthly payments, suggesting that Saudi authorities tried to buy the family.
On 7 September, the official Saudi Press Agency, citing a spokesman for the public prosecutor, said that five of the convicted received a sentence of five years while three other suspects’ sentences were reduced to between seven and ten years. The convicts remained unnamed.
The verdict was widely criticised, including by UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard, who denounced on Twitter the lack of transparency and fairness in the trial.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, called the verdict a “complete mockery of justice” on Twitter.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “This trial has fallen far short of international standards of due process and is a shocking denial of justice to the murdered journalist, his family and the global community of journalists. Instead of revealing the circumstances of the killing, the court protected the people responsible for Khashoggi's murder. The verdict fails international efforts to end impunity in crimes against journalists. Saudi Arabia must provide answers before the case is closed, including naming the person who ordered and planned the killing and where the body of our murdered colleague is.”