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Jamal Khashoggi: UN expert calls Saudi verdicts in case of murdered journalist 'a parody of justice'

A Saudi Arabian court has issued final verdicts in the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's 2018 killing inside the country's Istanbul consulate, according to Saudi state media.

Five individuals, who were not named, will receive maximum sentences of 20 years in prison. Another received a 10-year sentence and two others were given seven years in prison, Saudi television reported.

The family of Saudi critic and Washington Post journalist Khashoggi said that pardons spared five of the convicted individuals from being executed.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor had announced in December that five men were sentenced to death and three others to prison for the murder of Khashoggi, but that verdict has now been revised.

Agnès Callamard, the UN expert who investigated the Khashoggi killing, said the Saudi verdicts were "a parody of justice".

"These verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent," she tweeted.

She said the hitmen were receiving 20 years in prison while "the high-level officials who organised and embraced the execution of Jamal Khashoggi have walked free from the start -- barely touched by the investigation and trial."

Turkish prosecutors recently put 20 Saudi officials on trial in absentia over the murder of Khashoggi, including a former adviser to the Crown Prince who was found not guilty in Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to collect documents he needed to marry his fiancé. Turkish officials said that his body was dismembered and removed from the building.

The murder generated international outrage and damaged Saudi Arabia's international reputation.

A UN report said that evidence suggests the execution would have required "significant government coordination, resources and finances" and found that Khashoggi was the victim of a "premeditated extrajudicial execution".

"Every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the Crown Prince being aware at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr Khashoggi, was being launched," the report by UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said.

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