The son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has released a statement via Twitter forgiving his father’s killers.
In the statement, posted on Friday, Salah Khashoggi said his family pardons those who took the reporter’s life in 2018 when he visited Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.
“In this blessed night of the blessed month (of Ramadan) we remember God’s saying: If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah.”
“Therefore, we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty” he added.
Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate where he had gone to get the necessary documents for his wedding. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found.
Under Islamic law, death sentences in Saudi Arabia can be commuted if the victim’s family pardons the perpetrator, but it is not clear whether that will happen in this case.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, wrote on Twitter on Friday that “nobody has the right to pardon the killers”.
Jamal Khashoggi has become an international symbol bigger than any of us, admired and loved. His ambush and heinous murder does not have a statue of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers.
I and others will not stop until we get #JusticeForJamal (1/2) pic.twitter.com/hX0kFRPNvr
— Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) May 22, 2020
Yahya Assiri, the head of UK-based Saudi rights group ALQST, echoed Cengiz’s reaction.
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is not a family case, it is not a mistake in a normal context!” he wrote on Twitter, saying Khashoggi’s murder was not due to a personal disagreement.
“The authorities killed him because of his political work,” Assiri said. “His case is political, so keep silent!”
Assiri shared a statement signed by dozens of other Saudi activists and politicians, refuting what they called the repackaging of Khashoggi’s murder by the Saudi authorities into a familial one.
“We reject the use of Saudi authorities of some of Khashoggi’s family members to whitewash the country’s judiciary and dwarfing Khashoggi’s case,” the statement said, adding that Khashoggi’s family or at least some members of it did not have their full freedom to say what they want.
“Secondly, and more importantly, the fact is that the issue does not concern Jamal Khashoggi’s family only, but rather is an issue of public opinion as Khashoggi was a political writer who criticised the political system and was killed for that.”
— salah khashoggi (@salahkhashoggi) May 21, 2020
The murder caused a global uproar. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing.
Saudi officials say he had no role, although in September 2019 MBS indicated some personal accountability, saying the grisly killing “happened under my watch”.
A UN expert who completed a six-month investigation into Khashoggi’s murder called Salah Khashoggi’s decision to “forgive” his father’s killers just another step in Saudi Arabia’s “parody of justice”.
Although “shocking”, the announcement “was anticipated”, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said on Friday.
The independent rights expert, who does not speak for the UN but who reports her findings to it, maintained that the Saudi authorities were “playing out what they hope will be the final act in their well-rehearsed parody of justice”.
They were doing so “in front of an international community far too ready to be deceived” she said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death and three to jail over Khashoggi’s murder last December. The suspects were put on trial in secretive proceedings in the capital, Riyadh.
The trials were condemned by the United Nations and rights groups. Callamard accused Saudi Arabia of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of the 2018 killing to go free.
However, Salah Khashoggi said of the December verdict: “It has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved.”