Published On: Fri, May 22nd, 2020

Jamal Khashoggi’s family ‘pardons’ his killers, journalist’s son says

Jamal Khashoggi’s family ‘pardons’ his killers, journalist’s son says

If official, pardon may help suspects convicted for killing escape death sentence

MEE staff Fri, 05/22/2020 – 01:41

Last December, Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death for involvement in murder of Jamal Khashoggi (AFP/File photo)

The son of Jamal Khashoggi said early on Friday that the family of the slain Saudi journalist had “pardoned” his killers, opening the door for commuting the death sentence for suspects convicted of the murder.

“We, the family of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we have pardoned [those] who killed our father,” Salah Khashoggi said in a brief statement published on Twitter.

The younger Khashoggi also shared a Quranic verse encouraging forgiveness, noting that the family’s statement coincides with the holy Ramadan night of Laylat al-Qadr, also known as Night of Power.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS) was murdered and dismembered by Saudi government agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. 

Last December, Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death for their involvement in the murder in a move that was dismissed as a show, rather than genuine accountability, by critics of the kingdom. The trial exonerated top MBS aide Saud al-Qahtani, who is believed by some to have orchestrated the assassination.

In murder cases, Saudi law allows the victim’s family to pardon the killers, which can help them escape the death sentence. It is not clear if Salah Khashoggi’s statement amounts to a formal pardon.

Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz rejected the family’s pardoning statement, saying that she does not forgive those who ordered and carried out the killing.

“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,” she wrote on Twitter hours after Salah Khashoggi’s made his statement.

The kingdom faced a massive backlash by media freedom and human rights advocates after the assassination. Late in 2018, it was widely reported by US media outlets that the CIA had concluded the crown prince was behind the assassination – an assessment that was backed by every single US senator in December of that year.

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The gruesome killing of the veteran journalist, who also wrote columns for Middle East Eye, garnered growing opposition to the kingdom in Washington, with lawmakers from both major parties calling for reevaluating US-Saudi relations.

Saudi officials initially insisted that Khashoggi left the consulate before eventually acknowledging that the journalist was killed in the building. Still, officials in Riyadh say the murder was a rogue operation that took place without the authorisation or knowledge of MBS. 

Last year, a UN report concluded that the killing was a “premeditated execution”, for which the Saudi state was responsible.

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