US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Children of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday that they “forgave” their father’s killers, an announcement that should allow the accused to escape the death penalty, analysts said.
Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime after being close to it, was assassinated and his body cut into pieces on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul where he went to retrieve a document.
“We, the children of martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father,” Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of the former contributor to the American daily Washington Post, wrote on Twitter.
Saudi authorities have not publicly responded to the announcement by Salah Khashoggi, who still lives in Saudi Arabia and has always denied any financial arrangements with the government.
“This mainly means that the murderers will avoid capital punishment since it is a right that the family holds (according to sharia, Islamic law, editor’s note) by forgiveness,” said Ali Shihabi, a Saudi author and analyst close to the government.
“According to Sharia law applied in Saudi Arabia, the murderers will not be executed,” added analyst Nabeel Nowairah on Twitter.
Salah Khashoggi, one of the journalist’s four children, had previously said he had “full confidence” in the Saudi judicial system, criticizing opponents who he said were seeking to exploit the case.
In April 2019, the Washington Post assured that the children of the murdered journalist, including Salah, had received multi-million dollar homes and were paid thousands of dollars a month by the authorities.
The family then denied.
– “Parody of Justice” –
After an opaque trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three sentenced to prison terms for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. Eleven people had been charged in total.
The verdict pronounced in December, described as a “travesty of justice” by international human rights organizations, came as the kingdom redoubled diplomatic efforts to draw a line under this crisis and restore a tarnished image, approaching the G20 summit, organized by Ryad this year.
According to Turkey, Khashoggi was strangled and his body dismembered during a mission operated by a team of fifteen people. The 59-year-old editorialist’s remains have never been found.
After denying the assassination and then putting forward several contradictory versions, the authorities in Riyadh claimed that it had been committed by Saudi agents who had acted alone and without orders from senior leaders.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, nicknamed MBS, was chosen by Turkish and American officials to be the sponsor of the murder. He later said he, as the leader, assumed responsibility for the murder, but denied knowing it before it was committed.
– “Insufficient evidence” –
In Turkey, Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is leading an international campaign against Saudi officials. At the end of April, it called on the Premier League not to “tarnish its reputation” and to oppose the takeover of the English football club Newcastle by a Saudi investment fund.
In late March, Turkish justice launched proceedings against 20 people, including two close to MBS, ex-adviser Saoud al-Qahtani and former intelligence number two, General Ahmed al-Assiri, identified as the murderers.
The first was investigated but was not charged “on the basis of insufficient evidence” and the second, who was charged, was acquitted for the same reasons, according to the Saudi prosecution. The two men were officially ousted from the political circle of the prince inheriting.
Since the de facto takeover of MBS, Saudi Arabia has stepped up repression against critical voices, including human rights defenders.
Activist Loujain al-Hathloul sister, detained for having contacts with the media, diplomats and NGOs, reacted to Salah Khashoggi’s announcement on Twitter.
“Forgiveness does not mean exonerating the perpetrator,” said Alia al-Hathloul.
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