The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi said today that ‘no one’ has the right to pardon his killers after the murdered journalist’s sons offered forgiveness.
Hatice Cengiz vowed to continue fighting for justice after a statement by Salah Khashoggi which opens the door for five people to avoid execution in Saudi Arabia.
‘His ambush and heinous murder does not have a statute of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers. I and others will not stop until we get justice for Jamal,’ she said.
Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, allegedly by a 15-man Saudi hit squad who are believed to have dismembered him.
Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death last year, but there is widespread suspicion that the regime and its crown prince were the true culprits.
Hatice Cengiz (pictured), the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said today that ‘no one’ has the right to pardon his killers
Last moments: Khashoggi was last seen on October 2, 2018, entering the consulate in Istanbul where he was accosted and killed by alleged Saudi agents
Khashoggi’s son Salah, who met crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the killing, made the ‘pardon’ announcement on behalf of the journalist’s sons today.
‘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, he said.
Saudi authorities did not comment on the legal ramifications of this, but analysts said it could effectively grant clemency to five people on death row.
‘What this essentially means is that the killers will avoid capital punishment since that is a right the family has to forgive,’ said Ali Shihabi, a Saudi author and analyst.
‘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.
Salah, who lives in the kingdom, has denied reports of a financial settlement with the government.
Khashoggi’s son Salah, who met crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the killing (pictured), made the ‘pardon’ announcement on behalf of the journalist’s sons today
A Saudi court sentenced the five alleged killers to death in December after trials held in near-secrecy.
Another three were given jail terms totalling 24 years, while a further three were acquitted, prosecutors said.
However, no charges were brought against crown prince Mohammed bin Salman or his former right-hand man Saud al-Qahtani.
It sparked immediate claims of a cover-up to protect the prince, who denies involvement in the killing.
UN investigator Agnes Callamard, who wrote a report setting out ‘credible evidence’ of the prince’s involvement, said the verdicts were a ‘mockery of justice’.
The watchdog Reporters Without Borders voiced fears that the five men’s death sentences were ‘a way to silence them forever and to conceal the truth’.
Khashoggi (pictured), a journalist who had been critical of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, was killed in the Saudi consulate where he was picking up paperwork relating to his marriage
A Turkish investigation alleged that 15 Saudi agents were sent from Riyadh to carry out the killing by strangling Khashoggi and cutting his body into pieces. His remains have never been found.
Riyadh insists it was a rogue operation, having initially denied that Khashoggi died at all and then claimed that he died accidentally during a brawl.
However, a report by UN envoy Callamard linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a claim which the kingdom denies.
In a 99-page report, Callamard said experts found it ‘inconceivable’ that a sophisticated 15-man mission to kill Khashoggi could have happened without Prince Mohammed’s knowledge.
Two of the alleged hit squad had used diplomatic passports, and that the encounter at the consulate was ‘only possible because of the pretense of government service’, she said.
Khashoggi had been at the consulate to collect paperwork relating to his planned marriage to Cengiz, a Turkish citizen.
The journalist, a 59-year-old critic of the prince, had written for the Washington Post and lived in the United States.