Sons of Jamal Khashoggi forgive his killers, clearing path for official pardons

Salah Khashoggi the son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his relatives receive mourners at an events hall in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah

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.

"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.

'Other legal procedures by the state continue'.

He has also previously criticised "opponents and enemies" of Saudi Arabia who he said had tried to exploit his father's death to undermine the country's leadership.

The son of murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, has released a statement "forgiving" his killers.

"There were reports that the family was paid blood money by the Saudi Government - which were denied by Mr Khashoggi's son Salah", he said.

The verdicts were criticized by human rights groups because of the trial's secrecy.

Out of 11 individuals indicted in the case - most of whom remain unnamed - five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totalling 24 years and the others were acquitted, according to the public prosecutor.

However, no charges were brought against crown prince Mohammed bin Salman or his former right-hand man Saud al-Qahtani.

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Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critically of the crown prince in multiple columns for the Washington Post and had been living in exile for about a year, fearing he would be detained if he returned to Saudi Arabia as part of a wider crackdown on writers, activists and critics.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur who investigated his killing, said the announcement of forgiveness was anticipated.

A Turkish investigation alleged that 15 Saudi agents were sent from Riyadh to carry out the killing by strangling Khashoggi and cutting his body into pieces.

The watchdog Reporters Without Borders voiced fears that the five men's death sentences were "a way to silence them forever and to hide the truth".

The murder caused a global uproar and tarnished the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His remains have not been found. The family has denied this claim.

Riyadh has described the murder as a "rogue" operation, but both the Central Intelligence Agency and a United Nations special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

Two of the alleged hit squad had used diplomatic passports, and that the encounter at the consulate was "only possible because of the pretense of government service", she said.

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

Saudi media outlet Arab News sought to clarify Friday that the announcement made by Khashoggi's sons spares the convicted killers from execution, but does not mean they will go unpunished.

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