Khashoggi’s fam­ily for­gives Saudi killers, spar­ing 5 from ex­e­cu­tion

The Globe and Mail (Ontario Edition) - - NEWS - AYA BATRAWY

The fam­ily of slain Wash­ing­ton Post columnist Ja­mal Khashoggi an­nounced on Fri­day they have for­given his Saudi killers, giv­ing le­gal re­prieve to five govern­ment agents who had been sen­tenced to death for an op­er­a­tion that cast a cloud of sus­pi­cion over the king­dom’s Crown Prince.

“We, the sons of the mar­tyr Ja­mal Khashoggi, an­nounce that we for­give those who killed our father as we seek re­ward from God Almighty,” wrote one of his sons, Salah Khashoggi, on Twit­ter.

Salah Khashoggi, who lives in Saudi Ara­bia and has re­ceived fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion from the royal court for his father’s killing, ex­plained that for­give­ness was ex­tended to the killers dur­ing the last nights of the Mus­lim holy month of Ra­madan in line with Is­lamic tra­di­tion to of­fer par­dons in cases al­lowed by Is­lamic law.

The Saudi court’s rul­ing in De­cem­ber that the killing was not pre­med­i­tated paved the way for Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment by leav­ing the door open for re­prieve. Ad­di­tion­ally, the find­ing was in line with the govern­ment’s of­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion of Mr.

Khashoggi’s slay­ing that he was killed ac­ci­den­tally in a brawl by agents try­ing to forcibly re­turn him to Saudi Ara­bia.

The fam­ily’s de­ci­sion to par­don Mr. Khashoggi’s killers comes as ques­tions con­tinue to linger over who ul­ti­mately or­dered the op­er­a­tion and whether his sons have come un­der pres­sure. The trial was widely crit­i­cized by rights groups and an in­de­pen­dent UN in­ves­ti­ga­tor who noted that no se­nior of­fi­cials nor any­one in charge of or­der­ing the op­er­a­tion was found guilty.

Prior to his killing, Mr. Khashoggi had writ­ten crit­i­cally of Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince in col­umns for the Wash­ing­ton Post. He’d been liv­ing in ex­ile in the United States for about a year as Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man over­saw a crack­down in Saudi Ara­bia on hu­man-rights ac­tivists, writ­ers and crit­ics of the king­dom’s dev­as­tat­ing war in Ye­men.

In Oc­to­ber, 2017, a team of 15 Saudi agents was dis­patched to Turkey to meet Mr. Khashoggi in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul for what he thought was an ap­point­ment to pick up doc­u­ments needed to wed his Turk­ish fi­ancée. The group in­cluded a foren­sic doc­tor, in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity of­fi­cers and in­di­vid­u­als who worked for the Crown Prince’s of­fice.

Turk­ish of­fi­cials al­lege Mr. Khashoggi was killed and then dis­mem­bered with a bone saw. The body has not been found. Turkey, a ri­val of Saudi Ara­bia, ap­par­ently had the Saudi Con­sulate bugged and has shared au­dio of the killing with the CIA, among oth­ers.

Mr. Khashoggi’s Turk­ish fi­ancée, Hat­ice Cen­giz, said Fri­day that 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,” she wrote on Twit­ter in re­sponse to the fam­ily’s par­don.

Agnes Cal­la­mard, the UN spe­cial rap­por­teur who in­ves­ti­gated his killing, said the an­nounce­ment of for­give­ness was an­tic­i­pated. “All of us who, over the last 20 months, have re­ported on the grue­some ex­e­cu­tion of Ja­mal Khashoggi, and ab­sence of ac­count­abil­ity for his killing, ex­pected this,” she said in a Face­book post and added that Saudi au­thor­i­ties were “play­ing out what they hope will be the fi­nal act in their well-re­hearsed par­ody of jus­tice.”

The grisly killing, which took place as Mr. Khashoggi’s fi­ancée waited for him out­side the con­sulate, drew in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of Prince Mo­hammed.

Turkey, a ri­val of Saudi Ara­bia, ap­par­ently had the Saudi Con­sulate bugged and has shared au­dio of the killing with the CIA, among oth­ers.

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