(Bloomberg) -- The decision of Jamal Khashoggi’s family to forgive Saudis accused of his murder was described as both shocking and anticipated by a United Nations investigator who has said the former columnist was the victim of a “state killing.”
“All of us who, over the last 20 months, have reported on the gruesome execution of Jamal Khashoggi, and absence of accountability for his killing, expected this,” Agnes Callamard, an expert on extrajudicial executions at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement Friday. “The Saudi authorities are playing out what they hope will be the final act in their well-rehearsed parody of justice in front of an international community far too ready to be deceived.”
Khashoggi was a Saudi writer and former government insider who moved to the U.S. in 2017, where he began writing a column in the Washington Post that was often highly critical of the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. His murder and dismemberment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 sparked international outrage, shocked investors in the kingdom and led to Callamard’s UN probe.
Khashoggi’s family announced on Friday that they forgave the killers, a decision likely to result in a legal reprieve to the five men sentenced to death for the operation. “We, the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father as we hope and seek reward from God Almighty,” Salah Khashoggi, one of the writer’s sons, wrote on Twitter.
A Saudi court sentenced the men to death in December but ruled that the assassination wasn’t premeditated and said it didn’t have enough evidence to incriminate two top officials close to Prince Mohammed.
A report by Callamard last year found that Saudi agents were recorded discussing how to dismember Khashoggi’s body several minutes before he had entered the consulate in Istanbul, referring to him as a “sacrificial lamb.” Callamard recommended further investigation into Prince Mohammed and his adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, over the murder.
“A follow-up investigation must now be undertaken – an investigation focused on the chain of command and associated individual liabilities, including at the highest levels of the state,” she said on Friday. “Justice for Jamal means that we as an international community must do all we can to prevent and stop executions of journalists.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.