Sons of Khashoggi spare attackers from execution
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.