The Saudi judicial system allows victim families in some capital cases to encourage convicted killers. There had been widespread speculation that Khashoggi’s children, who have refrained from criticizing the Saudi leadership, would take such a step, though it was unclear whether their expressions of forgiveness were extended willingly or coercively.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, criticized the Khashoggi family’s statement on Friday. “No one has the right to pardon his murderers,”
Khashoggi, a veteran journalist who contributed bars to The Washington Post, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 as he went to collect documents that would allow him to remarry. The killers were Saudi government agents sent to Turkey on orders from top advisers to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to Turkish and Saudi prosecutors.
Khashoggi’s body was dismantled as part of a blurring attempt by the agents to cover up the murder, prosecutors said. The Saudi government initially denied any knowledge of the killing and later called it a rogue operation. The Crown Prince denied any prior knowledge of the plot, though the CIA concluded with “medium to high confidence” that Mohammed had ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
Saudi prosecutors said in December that five unidentified people had been sentenced to death in connection with the murder following a trial in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Three other people were sentenced to prison for a total of 24 years.
The judgments were criticized by human rights groups because of the secrecy of the lawsuit. Two senior officials involved in the killing, including Saud al-Qahtani, Crown Prince’s media adviser, were cleared of wrongdoing, prosecutors said.
Even as the trial was held, the Saudi royal court was preparing for a private settlement with Khashoggi’s four children, hoping to make sure they refrained from criticizing the kingdom’s leadership, according to current and former Saudi officials.
To that end, the children were given home in multimillion-dollar and monthly five-digit payments as part of a compensation package approved by King Salman shortly after the killing of Khashoggi, officials said.
After the payments were reported by The Post last year, Salah Khashoggi, a banker, characterized them as “generosity” by the Saudi Arabian leader, saying they “were not admitting guilt or scandal.” He said that “no conciliation discussion has been or is being discussed.”