The pardon effectively ends the prospect that any of the men who killed Jamal Khashoggi will be executed.
A son of the slain Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday that he and his siblings had forgiven the men who killed their father, effectively extinguishing the prospect that the killers will be executed for the crime, according to the New York Times.
Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who fled the kingdom during the rise of its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and published columns critical of him in The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered in October 2018 by agents from Saudi Arabia in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
In December, a Saudi court convicted eight men in connection with the crime, sentencing three to prison terms and five to death, which is usually carried out in the kingdom by beheading.
The court classified the case in a way that left open the possibility for Mr. Khashoggi’s heirs to pardon the killers, sparing them the sword. In a statement posted on Twitter, the son, Salah Khashoggi, essentially completed that process, citing a verse from the Quran praising forgiveness and saying the family hoped to be rewarded by God for its good deed.
Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that the pardon was coerced. He and his three siblings have received tens of thousands of dollars and millions in real estate from the kingdom’s rulers as compensation for their father’s killing. Jamal Khashoggi’s other children, a son and two daughters, have recently remained quiet about their father’s case.
The outcome will have to be made official in court, but the developments were immediately condemned by rights experts and associates of Jamal Khashoggi, along with his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, at the time of his death. They have accused the Saudis of shielding Mr. Khashoggi’s killers from accountability.
Agnes Callamard, a United Nations expert on extrajudicial executions who investigated Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, wrote on Twitter: “#SaudiArabia had repeatedly proven it will not deliver justice for #JamalKhashoggi. 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.”
The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Prince Mohammed, a son of the Saudi king and the kingdom’s de facto ruler, had most likely ordered the killing. Saudi officials have insisted the prince had no previous knowledge of the plot against Mr. Khashoggi, and said his killing had not been premeditated.
The crime, and repeated Saudi attempts to cover it up and change the story of what happened, battered Prince Mohammed’s reputation and led to international calls for justice against the killers. Mr. Khashoggi’s body has not been found.
Arab News, a Saudi newspaper, wrote last Friday that the five men sentenced to death could face other punishments, but it did not give details.
Many Saudis and United States officials assume the gifts given to Salah Khashoggi and his siblings were intended to persuade him to publicly forgive his father’s killers.
But the pardon, announced during the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims engage in charity and other good deeds, is unlikely to blunt the criticism of how the Saudis have handled the case.
“Jamal Khashoggi has become an international symbol bigger than any of us, admired and loved,” Ms. Cengiz, Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée, wrote on Twitter on Friday. “We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing.”