Sons of murdered Saudi journalist forgive’ killers on Ramadan holy night

The sons of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said Friday they “ forgive ” the killers of their father , an announcement analysts said effectively grants clemency to five convicted people on death row .

Khashoggi , a royal family insider turned critic , was killed and dismembered at the kingdom’ s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a case that tarnished the reputation of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

His family ’ s pardon could spare the lives of five unnamed people sentenced to death over the murder in a December court ruling that exonerated two top aides to the crown prince .

“On this holy night of this blessed month (of Ramadan) … we the sons of martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce we forgive and pardon those who killed our father , ” the Washington Post columnist ’ s son Salah Khashoggi said on Twitter .

Saudi authorities did not immediately comment on the legal ramifications of the announcement from Salah , who resides in the kingdom and has denied reports of a financial settlement with the government .

“ What this essentially means is that the killers will avoid capital punishment since that is a right the family ( under sharia law ) has to forgive , ” Ali Shihabi, a Saudi author and analyst close to the government said on Twitter.

“ Other legal procedures by the state continue . ”

Analyst Nabeel Nowairah also said the family’ s declaration effectively means the “ murderers will not be executed ”.

Salah has previously said he had “ full confidence” in the judicial system , and criticised opponents he said were seeking to exploit the case .

The Washington Post reported last year that Khashoggi ’ s children , including Salah, had received multimillion- dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars per month by authorities.

Salah rejected the report , denying discussing a financial settlement with the Saudi government .

– ‘ Rogue ’ operation –
Out of 11 individuals indicted in the case , most of whom remain unnamed , five were sentenced to death , three face jail terms totalling 24 years and the others were acquitted , according to the public prosecutor .

The December verdict , which was lambasted by rights groups as a travesty of justice , underscored Saudi efforts to draw a line under the crisis as it seeks to reboot its international image ahead of this year ’ s G 20 summit in Riyadh .

The murder involved 15 Saudi agents sent from Riyadh , Ankara said .

Riyadh has described the murder as a “ rogue ” operation , but both the CIA and a United Nations special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies .

Khashoggi , a 59 – year – old critic of the crown prince , was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15- man Saudi squad inside the consulate , according to Turkish officials . His remains have not been found .

Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al- Assiri oversaw Khashoggi ’ s killing and the US Treasury had claimed the royal court’ s media czar Saud al -Qahtani was “ part of the planning and execution ” of the operation that led to the murder.

Qahtani was investigated but not indicted “ due to insufficient evidence” and Assiri was charged , but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, according to the public prosecutor .

Both aides were part of Prince Mohammed ’ s tight – knit inner circle and were formally sacked over the killing, but only Assiri appeared in the court hearings , according to Western sources.

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