Family of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi issues statement forgiving his killers

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the country's consulate in Istanbul

The brutal slaying happened in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, where he wa tortured, murdered and dismembered.

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.

But their account of events has been doubted internationally, including by some intelligence agencies and the UN.

Prior to his death, Mr Kashoggi was living in the United States and writing for The Washington Post newspaper.

The announcement was largely expected because the trial in Saudi Arabia left the door open for a reprieve by ruling in December that the killing was not premeditated.

Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death previous year, but there is widespread suspicion that the regime and its crown prince were the true culprits.

The head of the UK-based Saudi rights group ALQST, Yahya Assiri, believes the statement is part of a ploy to help the Saudi government shirk responsibility over the murder.

Analyst Nabeel Nowairah also said the family's declaration effectively means the "murderers will not be executed".

"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", his son Salah wrote in a tweet.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sits next to a Saudi flag wearing a keffiyeh
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud's image was tarnished by Jamal Khashoggi's death

Khashoggi's son Salah tweeted: "We, sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father".

"What this essentially means is that the killers will avoid capital punishment" as the family reserved the right to forgive them under Islamic sharia law, Ali Shihabi, a Saudi author and analyst close to the government said on Twitter.

Salah has previously issued statements expressing his confidence in, and support of, the Saudi investigation.

The Washington Post reported previous year that Khashoggi's children, including Salah, had received multimillion-dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars per month by authorities.

Salah Khashoggi said the December verdict "has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved".

Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his impending wedding.

Media captionMohammed bin Salman is asked: "Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?"

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.

After initially offering shifting accounts of what transpired, and under intense global and Turkish pressure, Saudi prosecutors eventually settled on the explanation that Khashoggi had been killed by Saudi agents in an operation masterminded by two of the crown prince's top aides at the time.

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