BEIRUT, Lebanon — 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.

Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who fled the kingdom during the rise of its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and wrote 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 men, whose names the Saudis have never released, were identified recently in a Turkish indictment that included extensive notes from the Saudi trial.

The Saudi 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.

Jamal Khashoggi’s other children, a son and two daughters, have recently remained quiet about their father’s case, but only one of them needs to pardon the killers for the executions to be avoided.

The outcome will have to be made official in court, but the developments were immediately condemned by rights experts and associates of Jamal Khashoggi, including his fiancée at the time of his death, Hatice Cengiz. They have accused the Saudis of shielding Mr. Khashoggi’s killers from accountability.

ImageSalah Khashoggi, third from right, and his relatives receiving mourners in Jeddah in 2018.
Salah Khashoggi, third from right, and his relatives receiving mourners in Jeddah in 2018.Credit…Amer Hilabi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“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,” Agnes Callamard, a United Nations expert on extrajudicial executions who investigated Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, said in a statement.

She dismissed the Saudi investigation, trial, verdict and pardon as predetermined steps leading to “the antithesis of justice” and called for an international investigation to determine who was involved “at the highest levels of the state.”

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, and the Senate unanimously passed a symbolic resolution holding Prince Mohammed “personally accountable” for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

Saudi officials have insisted the prince had no previous knowledge of the plot against Mr. Khashoggi, and said his killing had not been premeditated.

Arab News, a Saudi newspaper, wrote on 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. 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 criticism of the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Japan in 2019. The killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and repeated Saudi attempts to change the story of what happened, have battered his reputation.Credit…Charly Triballeau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“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.”

The Saudi authorities have never publicly named the 11 men who stood trial for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, nor the eight who were convicted, citing privacy regulations.

The trial was held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in strict secrecy: Trial sessions were not announced in advance, and diplomats from countries including the United States and Turkey who were allowed to observe did not share their impressions.

But excerpts from the notes of Turkish diplomats who observed the trial have recently become public, providing the first glimpses of how it unfolded.

The trial largely corresponded with the final Saudi narrative of the events that led to Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, aspects of which have been questioned by Turkish and United States officials familiar with the case.

According to testimony cited in the trial notes, once it was known that Mr. Khashoggi would come to the consulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a document he needed to marry Ms. Cengiz, a Saudi intelligence official sent 15 agents to Turkey with the goal of bringing him home. Most of the men testified that they were ordered to use force if necessary.

In Istanbul, five members of the team were given the task of confronting Mr. Khashoggi, the trial notes say. When their leader, an intelligence officer named Maher Mutrib, realized that Mr. Khashoggi would not return to Saudi Arabia voluntarily, he ordered the men to kill him, some of the men testified.

The account contradicts audio captured by Turkish intelligence inside the consulate in which the men discussed the size and weight of Mr. Khashoggi before he arrived.

When Mr. Khashoggi reached the building, Mr. Mutrib referred to him as “the sacrificial animal,” according to the audio, which was cited in a report by Ms. Callamard, the United Nations expert.

Security guards outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.Credit…Osman Orsal/Getty Images

The trial notes say the men injected Mr. Khashoggi with a drug that killed him, dismembered his body with knives, and then placed his remains in three bags.

The notes do not mention the “bone saw” that Turkish officials have said the men used to dismember Mr. Khashoggi.

The five men directly involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing received the death sentence, according to the trial notes. They included Mr. Mutrib; Salah Tubaigy, a forensic doctor and autopsy specialist who administered the shot that killed Mr. Khashoggi; and three others.

Mansour Abu Hussain, who oversaw the 15-man team, was sentenced to 10 years. The trial notes said he had confessed to lying in a report to his superiors to hide Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

Two others received seven-year sentences: Mustafa al-Madani, who was similar in size and stature to Mr. Khashoggi, allowing him to serve as a body double when he put on the dissident’s clothes after the killing and walked around Istanbul to deceive investigators; and Saif Saad al-Qahtani, who worked with Mr. al-Madani.

The trial notes also made clear that Saud al-Qahtani, a powerful aide to Prince Mohammed at the time who United States officials believe oversaw the operation, was never questioned in connection with the crime.

Mr. al-Qahtani was sanctioned by the State and Treasury Departments. The latter called him “part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”

The notes from the Turkish diplomats who attended the Saudi trial became public last month when they appeared in a Turkish indictment of 20 suspects in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Istanbul.

Orignially published in NYT.

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