The sons of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received a large amount of dollars and real estate properties from the Royal family as a compensation for their father’s death.
According to a person close to Khashoggi’s family and to a former Saudi official, King Salman ordered these financial compensations soon after the death of Saudi journalist Mr. Khashoggi. Such retributions are meant to act as a financial support for four Kashoggi’s sons. Each of them has been gifted with a house property in the city of Jidda worth 4 million dollars as average, in addition to a monthly pension from $10,000 to $15,000 a month. Nevertheless, these measures may be interpreted as a political deterrent for Khashoggi’s sons to persuade them not to speak against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As a matter of fact, they have been totally abstaining from criticising the royal family or Crown Prince Mohammed publicly. In addition to that, the eldest son Salah, who is still living in Jidda, defined his father in an interview to the CNN as a person who “believed in the monarchy” and not as a “dissident”.
On October 2018, photos of him shaking hands with Mohammed bin Salman and King Salaman in Riyadh were officially released. The images clearly show the uncomfortable position to which Salah was exposed at as well as the coercive power that the royal family has on Khashoggi’s relatives. Yehia Assiri, a Saudi human right activist and friend of the Saudi dissident, commented the visit as “an assault to the family” and clear attempt to “cover the crime”.
Meanwhile, Western governments have put pressure on Saudi government to hold accountable those responsible for the killing. Saudi Arabia responded declaring that its public prosecutor has charged eleven officials involved in the operation, five of which could face a death sentence. This may create internal dissent among Saudi officers or intelligence agents. However, the Saudi legal system allows in some occasions to make the families of the murderers pay “blood money” to the victims in order to renounce to the right to demand death penalty. In this contest, if security officers were held responsible for the killing, the payments occurred to Khashoggi’s children could function as blood money and spare death sentences to the officers.
Recently, it has been reported that only government representatives of France, United Kingdom, United States, Russia and China have been allowed to attend the trial of the suspects in Riyadh. Moreover, trial sessions held so far have been closed for the media. Saudi officials have not permitted independent monitoring of the proceeding, which raises international concerns on the fairness and transparency of such trials. According to international standards, tacit or express agreements to maintain secrecy about the proceedings are against international laws. Therefore, the governments of these countries should report publicly about trial proceedings and urge the Saudi government to allow observers to attend the proceedings from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international human rights groups, and international media organisations.
As a reminder, the European Parliament undertook several actions regarding the Khashoggi case, through resolutions and declarations. On the other hand, its last activities date back to 2018, just few months after the Saudi journalist death.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) strongly condemns Mr. Khashoggi’s murder and the Saudi royal family’s behaviour in addressing the situation, especially regarding the payments occurred to the journalist’s sons and their use as a powerful deterring tool. Moreover, we call upon the European Parliament to take further political actions to push Saudi government to held accountable those responsible for the killing.