Khashoggi's loved ones clash over whether to forgive journalist's killers

"We forgive and pardon those who participated in the killing of our father," one of Khashoggi's sons, Salah, tweeted.
Image: Saudi crown prince shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, a son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October 2018.AP file

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By Saphora Smith

LONDON — Those closest to slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi appeared to send conflicting messages overnight as to whether tho people who killed the Washington Post columnist should be forgiven.

One of Khashoggi’s sons, Salah, posted early Friday that members of his family had chosen to forgive those who murdered their father.

“On this very blessed night, of this very blessed month [of Ramadan] we remember God almighty's saying in his holy book: '...If you forgive and you make reconciliation, the reward is due from God,'" he said.

“This is why we, the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive and pardon those who participated in the killing of our father.”

Some three hours later, Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, appeared to respond to the suggestion that his murderers should be forgiven.

“Nobody has the right to pardon the killers. We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing,” she wrote on Twitter.

On the last 10 nights of Ramadan, and on the odd-numbered nights particularly, Muslims ask God for forgiveness for their sins with extra fervor in the hope it will be granted before Ramadan ends.

Khashoggi went into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, to obtain documents to do with his planned marriage to Cengiz. His fiance waited outside but he never emerged. His family would later learn that he had been slain inside the consulate by fellow Saudis. His remains have never been found.

The CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who had openly criticized the de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom in his opinion articles for The Washington Post.

The crown prince said the murder was carried out without his knowledge but has also suggested he had some personal accountability.

"I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch,” he told PBS' "Frontline” in September last year.

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in September 2019 in New York.Craig Ruttle / AP

In December, Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death for "committing and directly participating" in Khashoggi’s murder. Three others were sentenced to a collective total of 24 years in prison for their "role in covering up" the killing.

The United Nations extrajudicial executions investigator, Agnes Callamard, criticized the ruling at the time saying "the travesty of investigation, prosecution and justice continues."

In response to the news that Khashoggi's family had decided to forgive his killers, Callamard tweeted Friday that Saudi Arabia had “repeatedly proven” it will not deliver justice for Khashoggi.

“This is the last piece to the Saudi impunity puzzle, the final act of the parody of justice played in front of a global audience,” she said. “The killers will walk free. Exonerated.”

Salah Khashoggi’s statement recalls the now-infamous image of him shaking the powerful crown prince's hand in the Yamama Palace in Riyadh just three weeks after his father’s killing.

Adela Suliman contributed.