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Family of Jamal Khashoggi 'forgives' killers

May 22, 2020

The sons of the murdered Saudi journalist say the family pardons those who were involved in their father's murder, possibly sparing their lives. Khashoggi’s fiancee said "no one has a right to pardon his killers."

Jamal Kashoggi
Image: Getty Images/Y. Akgul

The family of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday that they have forgiven those who were convicted of murdering their father in Istanbul two years ago.

The journalist was last seen at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding.

According to Turkish officials, the 59-year-old royal family insider turned critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the Saudi consulate. His remains have not been found.

Read more: Jamal Khashoggi: A mysterious disappearance and death

"In this blessed night of the blessed month (of Ramadan) we remember God's saying: If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah," his son Salah wrote in a tweet. "Therefore, we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty" he added.

Analysts say that the family's forgiveness effectively grants clemency to five unnamed convicted people on death row, including two top aides of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"What this essentially means is that the killers will avoid capital punishment since that is a right the family (under sharia law) has to forgive," Ali Shihabi, an analyst close to the Saudi government said on Twitter. "Other legal procedures by the state continue."

Fiancee: 'Murder has no statute of limitations'

Khashoggi's former fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, responded on Twitter that she rejected any pardon.

"His ambush and heinous murder does not have a statute of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers," she wrote. The Turkish researcher has campaigned for justice for her former betrothed since his death.

"The killers came from Saudi with premeditation to lure, ambush and kill him," she added. "We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing."

Prince vehemently denies involvement 

The murder of the journalist caused global uproar and tarnished the crown prince's reputation. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some European governments maintain that bin Salman had ordered the killing.

The Turkish government said the murder involved 15 Saudi agents sent from the capital Riyadh. Saudi officials have continuously denied the prince's role, describing the killing as a "rogue" operation.

In December last year, the kingdom sentenced five people to death and three to jail terms totaling 24 years over the murder. Three others were acquitted, according to the public prosecutor. 

Read more: Journalists under threat: April's 10 most urgent cases

The suspects were put on trial in secretive proceedings which were condemned by rights groups and the United Nations. UN special rapporteur for arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard accused Saudi Arabia of making a "mockery" of justice by allowing those behind the killing to walk free.

No comment from Riyadh 

Saudi authorities did not immediately comment on the legal implications of the forgiveness from Salah Khashoggi.

The Washington Post reported last year that Khashoggi's children, including Salah, who resides in the kingdom, had received multimillion-dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars per month by Saudi authorities. Salah has rejected reports of a financial settlement with the Saudi government.

Salah Khashoggi had said of the December verdict that "it has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved."

mvb/mm (AFP, Reuters)

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