Khashoggi's son defends Saudi against critics 'exploiting' murder

Salah Khashoggi says he has full confidence in Saudi Arabia's judicial system and its ability to deliver justice.

    Jamal Khashoggi's son Salah, centre, receives mourners during a condolence gathering in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last November [File: EPA]
    Jamal Khashoggi's son Salah, centre, receives mourners during a condolence gathering in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last November [File: EPA]

    The son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has denied a financial settlement with the government, has spoken out in defence of the kingdom ahead of the first anniversary of his father's killing.

    Khashoggi, a royal family insider-turned-critic, was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, in an operation that reportedly involved 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body was never found.

    Eleven unidentified suspects have been on trial in Riyadh, five of them facing the death penalty.

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    Salah Khashoggi said he had "full confidence" in the Saudi judicial system, and hit out at opponents he said were seeking to exploit the case.

    "A year has gone by since the passing of my beloved father. During this time, opponents and enemies of the motherland in the East and West sought to exploit his case... to undermine my country and leadership," he said in a tweet late on Monday.

    "Never in his life would my father have accepted any offence against the motherland, and I will not accept his memory to be used for this purpose after his death.

    "I repeat what I have said in the past: I have full confidence in the kingdom's judicial system and in its ability to serve justice to those behind this heinous crime, and I will remain as Jamal Khashoggi was, loyal to God, then country and leadership," Salah, who resides in the kingdom, wrote.

    The Washington Post reported on April 1 that Khashoggi's children, including Salah, had received multimillion-dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars a month by the Saudi authorities.

    Last year, a photo of Salah shaking hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) a month after the elder Khashoggi was murdered went viral.

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    The photo was taken after Salah was "invited" to receive condolences, but many pundits pointed to his pained expression and decried the photo-op as ruthless.

    A friend of the Khashoggi family told the Associated Press last year that Salah has been under a travel ban since his father began writing critically about MBS in columns for The Washington Post.

    The individual spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal.

    MBS defence 'problematic'

    Both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked MBS to the murder, a charge the kingdom denies.

    Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings who led a probe into the killing of Khashoggi, criticised MBS for trying to create "distance" between himself and the killing.

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    Callamard, whose independent probe found "credible evidence" linking the crown prince to the murder and attempted cover-up, dismissed MBS's defence as "problematic".

    She was responding to an interview MBS gave to US-based CBS network's 60 Minutes programme, which aired on Sunday, during which he denied ordering or having advance knowledge of Khashoggi's killing, but said he "took full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia".

    "He is only taking corporate responsibility for the crime, which goes without saying," Callamard told AFP news agency ahead of the first anniversary of Khashoggi's death.

    "He is creating a huge distance between himself and the crime" by arguing that he cannot be liable for the conduct of all Saudi government employees, Callamard said.

    "For the last 12 months, the Saudi state, their various representatives and [MBS] included have been lying to the international community regarding the nature of the crime," she said. "So now we are supposed to take his word that, yes, he has a corporate responsibility but he has no personal responsibility?"

    "Not good enough," she said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies