Sons of Khashoggi spare at­tack­ers from ex­e­cu­tion

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By Aya Batrawy Aya Batrawy is an Associated Press writer.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The fam­ily of slain Wash­ing­ton Post columnist Ja­mal Khashoggi an­nounced 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 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 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 U.N. in­ves­ti­ga­tor who noted that no se­nior of­fi­cials nor any­one in charge of or­der­ing the op­er­a­tion was found guilty. The in­de­pen­dence of the Riyadh crim­i­nal court was also brought into ques­tion.

Prior to his killing, 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 Khashoggi in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul for what he thought was an ap­point­ment to pick up doc­u­ments needed to marry his Turk­ish fi­ancee. Turk­ish of­fi­cials al­lege Khashoggi was killed and then dis­mem­bered with a bone saw. The body has not been found.

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