The family of Jamal Khashoggi, the slain Washington Post columnist announced on Friday that they have forgiven his Saudi killers, giving legal reprieve to the five government agents who were convicted of the journalist’s murder and had been sentenced to execution.
“We, the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father as we seek reward from God Almighty”, tweeted Salah Khashoggi, one of his sons.
— salah khashoggi (@salahkhashoggi) May 21, 2020
Salah Khashoggi, who lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court over the killing of his father explained that forgiveness was extended to the killers during the last nights of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan in line with the Islamic tradition of offering pardons in cases allowed by Islamic law.
The announcement was largely expected because the trial in Saudi Arabia had left the door open for reprieve by ruling in December that the killing was not premeditated. That finding was in line with the Saudi government’s official explanation of Khashoggi’s slaying, which has been called into question internationally.
Meanwhile, Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the slain journalist was quoted as saying by the AFP that “no one” had the right to pardon the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi.
Taking to Twitter, Hatice Cengiz tweeted, “Jamal Khashoggi has become an international symbol bigger than any of us, admired and loved. His ambush and heinous murder does not have a statue of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers. I and others will not stop until we get #JusticeForJamal.” (sic)
She added, “Nobody has the right to pardon the killers. We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing.” (sic)
Jamal was killed inside his country’s consulate while getting the docs to complete our marriage. The killers came from Saudi with premeditation to lure, ambush & kill him. Nobody has the right to pardon the killers. We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) May 22, 2020
Saudi media outlet Arab News sought to clarify on Friday that the announcement made by Khashoggi’s sons spares the convicted killers from execution but does not mean they will go unpunished. The grisly killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi’s body inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in late 2017 as his Turkish fiancee waited for him outside drew international condemnation and cast a cloud of suspicion over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The body has never been found.
Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critical columns of the prince for the Washington Post and had been living in exile for about a year for fear of being detained should he return to Saudi Arabia.
After offering shifting accounts of what transpired and under intense international and Turkish pressure, the kingdom eventually settled on the explanation that Khashoggi had been killed by Saudi agents in an operation masterminded by two of the crown prince’s top aides, who have since been removed from their posts.
While the kingdom had denied any knowledge of the operation by crown prince Mohammed bin Salma, his critics had pointed to US intelligence reports which say that such an operation could not have taken place without his knowledge. US President Donald Trump has also defended U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia, despite Congressional pressure and a Senate resolution blaming the crown prince for the murder.
Apart from the five who had been sentenced to execution, the Saudi trial concluded that three other people were found guilty of covering up the crime and were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison. Eleven people in total were put on trial over the killing. However, their names were not disclosed by the Saudi government.
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