Tag Archives: Jamal Khashoggi

Trump boasts his protection for Bin Salman after Khashoggi’s murder.

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Trump bragged to author Bob Woodward that he protected Saudi crown prince after 2018 assassination of Khashoggi.

President Donald Trump boasted that he protected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book says, according to a new report.

Trump bragged that he protected the Saudi crown prince from consequences in the United States after the assassination of Khashoggi in October 2018, the news outlet Business Insider reported on Thursday.

“I saved his a**,” President Trump said about the US outcry about Khashoggi’s killing, according to Business Insider, quoting from a copy of Woodward’s book.

“I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop,” Trump said.

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An opinion columnist for the Washington Post newspaper who was living in the US, Khashoggi had travelled to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a licence for his upcoming marriage to fiancee Hatice Cengiz. He was 59 at the time of his murder inside the consulate.

The president told Woodward he did not believe that MBS had ordered Khashoggi’s murder, although US and other foreign intelligence services have reportedly concluded that MBS directed the killing.

After Khashoggi’s death set off outrage among US legislators from both parties, Trump bypassed Congress to sell roughly $8bn in precision-guided missiles and other high-tech weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Trump reportedly bragged that he protected Mohammed bin Salman from consequnces in the US after the assassination of Khashoggi [File: Presidency Press Service via AP Photo]

Trump vetoed three resolutions passed by Congress rebuking him for the sale and blocked a War Powers Act resolution to end US military support for the UAE-and-Saudi-led war in Yemen.

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Woodward’s upcoming book, Rage, is to be released on September 15.

Woodward conducted 18 interviews with the president for the book. Audio recordings of Trump’s remarks to Woodward released on Wednesday reignited a political controversy in the US about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodward wrote that Trump called him on January 22 shortly after attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During the conversation, Woodward pressed the president about Khashoggi’s gruesome murder, according to Business Insider.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents while his fiancee waited for him outside the consulate building.

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A Saudi consulate worker in Istanbul told a Turkish court on July 3 he was asked to light an oven less than an hour after Khashoggi entered the building.

Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, gave evidence on the first day of the Turkish trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials for Khashoggi’s killing.

“There were five to six people there … They asked me to light up the tandoor [oven]. There was an air of panic,” said Demir.

On Monday, a Saudi Arabian court overturned five death sentences for the killing of Khashoggi.


#Newsworthy…

Khashoggi killing: Saudi Arabia sentenced 8.

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Saudi media report defendants handed between seven and 20 years in prison over the journalist’s murder in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia sentenced eight people charged in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, halting the death sentence for five of the men.

A court handed 20-year sentences to five people charged in the murder case, and three others were sentenced to between seven to 10 years, state media reported on Monday. The eight convicted were not identified.

“Five of the convicts were given 20 years in prison and another three were jailed for 7-10 years,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecution service.

The final court verdict comes after Khashoggi’s sons said in May they had “pardoned” the killers – meaning they would not receive death sentences – and the verdicts confirmed the five previously condemned men would not be executed.

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Khashoggi went missing on October 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish authorities later revealed he was murdered inside the consulate by a Saudi hit squad.

Khashoggi’s body, believed to have been dismembered, has not been found.

Khalil Jahshan, from the Arab Center in Washington, DC, noted the prosecutor’s office said the announcement was final and “closes the case forever”.

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“Most importantly, where is the body of Jamal Khashoggi? With these sentences, I assume they have found out what happened to his body,” Jahshan, a family friend, told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media.

“The whole verdict seems to me to have been manipulated. According to legal practice in Saudi Arabia, the family has a right to commute any sentence, and the family has issued such a declaration – most probably under duress. I don’t think it was done freely, knowing the family.”

‘Credible evidence’
A 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi wrote critically of the Saudi government.

Questions remain over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) role in ordering the killing, with several western intelligence agencies alluding he had knowledge of the operation beforehand.

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The Saudi government called the assassination a “rogue operation” after repeatedly denying any involvement for weeks.

Agnes Callamard – the United Nations’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – also found “credible evidence” that Prince Mohammedand other senior Saudi officials were liable for the killing in an investigative report published in June 2019.

Istanbul prosecutor indicts Saudi suspects for Khashoggi killing

Turkey trial
The assassination of Khashoggi – a US resident – prompted a worldwide backlash against Saudi Arabia and caused lasting damage to MBS’s image in the international arena.

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Ankara’s ties with Riyadh came under intense strain after the journalist’s killing as he was an acquaintance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In March, Turkish prosecutors indicted 20 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi’s murder, including two former senior aides to Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

According to the indictment, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri is accused of establishing a hit team and planning the murder.

Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal court and media adviser, is accused of instigating and leading the operation by giving orders to the hit team. Other suspects are mainly Saudi military and intelligence officers who allegedly took part.


#Newsworthy…

Khashoggi: Consulate workers lighted the oven on order in his Murder

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Technician tells Turkish court he was given the orders after Khashoggi entered the building where he was killed.


A Saudi consulate worker in Istanbul has told a Turkish court he was asked to light an oven less than an hour after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the building where he was killed in 2018.

Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, was giving evidence on Friday, on the first day of the trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials over Khashoggi’s killing which sparked global outrage.

Demir said he had been called to the consul's residence after Khashoggi entered the nearby consulate.

“There were five to six people there … They asked me to light up the tandoor [oven]. There was an air of panic,” said Demir.

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Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate building in October 2018 to get papers for his upcoming marriage.

Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing – an accusation Saudi officials denied.

Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing [Jack Taylor/Getty Images]

Turkish officials have said one theory police pursued was that the killers may have tried to dispose of the body by burning it after suffocating him and cutting up his corpse.

Skewers of meat
According to his testimony in the indictment, Demir reported seeing many skewers of meat and a small barbecue in addition to the oven in the consul’s garden.

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Marble slabs around the oven appeared to have changed colour as if they had been cleaned with a chemical, the indictment reported him as saying.

Separate witness testimony in the indictment, from the consul’s driver, said the consul had ordered raw kebabs to be bought from a local restaurant.

Demir offered to help with the garage door when a car with darkened windows arrived, but he was told to leave the garden quickly, the indictment said.

The indictment accuses two top Saudi officials, former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, of instigating “premeditated murder with monstrous intent”.

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It says 18 other defendants were flown to Turkey to kill Khashoggi, a prominent and well-connected journalist who had grown increasingly critical of the crown prince.

The defendants are being tried in absentia and are unlikely to ever be handed over by Saudi Arabia, which has accused Turkey of failing to cooperate with a separate, largely secretive, trial in Riyadh last year.

In December, a Saudi court sentenced five people to death and three to jail for the killing, but Khashoggi’s family later said they forgave his murderers, effectively granting them a formal reprieve under Saudi law.

At the time, a Saudi prosecutor said there was no evidence connecting al-Qahtani to the killing and dismissed charges against al-Asiri.


#Newsworthy…

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Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee arrive murder trial in Turkey

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Turkish court opens trial of 20 Saudi nationals, including two former aides to crown prince, over killing of journalist.


The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi has told a Turkish court the Washington Post columnist was lured to his death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul through “a great betrayal and deception”, and has asked that all people responsible for his killing be brought to justice.

Hatice Cengiz spoke at the opening of the trial on Friday in absentia of two former aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and 18 other Saudi nationals who were charged in Turkey for Khashoggi’s grisly slaying.

The journalist’s 2018 killing at the consulate sparked international condemnation and cast a cloud of suspicion over the crown prince.

The 20 Saudi defendants all left Turkey, and Saudi Arabia rejected Turkish demands for their extradition.

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Some of the men were put on trial in Riyadh behind closed doors. The proceedings were widely criticised as a whitewash. Khashoggi’s family members later announced they had forgiven his killers.

The trial in Turkey is being closely watched for possible new information or evidence from the killing, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains.

‘Great betrayal and deception’
Khashoggi, who was a US resident, had walked into his country’s consulate on October 2, 2018, for an appointment to collect documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee. He never walked out.

Cengiz, who took the stand to testify, spoke of the day she had her future taken away, NRM learnt

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“He was called to that consulate with great betrayal and deception,” the private Media quoted Cengiz as telling the court during her testimony.

“I am making a complaint about everyone at the consulate. Everyone from the driver to the tea-maker,” said Cengiz, who waited for Khashoggi outside the Istanbul consulate when he went there to obtain the documents and alerted authorities when he failed to come out.

In this file photo from October 2018, activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul [File: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo]

In brief comments after the hearing, she described Khashoggi as a friend, co-worker, ally and companion for many people, not just for her.

“The process was quite emotionally debilitating for me,” she said, but promised to “continue to closely follow the trial because it is our responsibility”, and expressed faith in the Turkish judicial process.

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Her lawyer confirmed to Media the next hearing would be held on November 24.

First pubic trial
While Riyadh refused to extradite the suspects for the proceeding, its importance was underscored by the fact that it is the first public trial into Khashoggi’s killing.

“This is the first time that the judicial system is finally confronting its responsibilities and is speaking to Jamal Khashoggi and to his murder and to the witnesses and to the victims in a way that is internationally recognisable,” said Agnes Callamard, the United Nations’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who attended the hearing.

Reporting from Istanbul, NRM learnt this is the first transparent trial where access to testimonies of the witnesses is available, unlike the Saudi trial, which took place behind closed doors.

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Saudi Arabia repeatedly said Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” and denied reports that the crown prince was involved.

MBS has said he did not order the killing, but took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia”.

Cengiz told the court Khashoggi was lured to his death at the consulate with ‘betrayal and deception’ [Murad Sezer/Reuters]

The Istanbul trial “represents the best hope for justice” for Khashoggi “following a blatant miscarriage of justice in the Saudi courts”, said Erol Onderoglu, Turkey representative for media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Calls for a ‘greater international presence’
Following the hearing on Friday, Callamard told media that an international presence, including representatives of foreign states such as the US is needed.

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“I call on them to ensure that in the next session in November that there is a far greater international presence so we continue to deliver that message to Saudi Arabia and to the rest of the world that you cannot get away with killing a journalist,” Callamard said.

“Let’s not forget that this is a state execution … This is why the presence of other states, of other members of the international community is important.”

Noble Reporters Media said according to legal experts, if the prosecutors are not able to find any concrete evidence despite the information they have gathered, it would be impossible to indict someone.

“That’s why [Calamard] said that the US should be more involved because the US is the only party that can prove evidence that MBS was involved in Khashoggi’s murder,” Koseoglu said.


#Newsworthy…

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Jamal Khasoggi’s murder not personal – Saudi Arabia’s Activists.

Saudi activists say perpetrators in homicide cases cannot be pardoned and reaffirm Jamal Khashoggi’s case as political.


Many leading Saudi activists have stressed that slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder remains a political issue, despite alleged efforts by authorities in the kingdom to reduce it to a familial one.

Khashoggi, a well-known journalist in the Arab world who also wrote opinion pieces for The Washington Post, was killed in October 2018 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents to marry his Turkish fiance. His body was dismembered and never recovered.

The remarks by the Saudi activists came after Khashoggi’s son Salah posted a brief statement on Twitter earlier on Friday, saying his family has pardoned those responsible for his father’s murder.

“In this blessed night of the blessed month [of Ramadan], we remember God’s saying: If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah,” he posted.

“Therefore, we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty.”

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However, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiance, Hatice Cengiz, renounced the statement, saying “no one has the right to pardon the killers” and that she will not stop until justice is done.

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is not a family case, it is not a mistake in a normal context,” said Yahya Assiri, the head of the United Kingdom-based Saudi rights group, ALQST.

“The authorities killed him because of his political work,” Assiri said. “His case is political, so keep silent.”

تبرئة سعود القحطاني وأحمد عسيري في قضية الاغتيال الغادر للشهيد #جمال_خاشقجي رحمه الله هو حماية للدائرة الصغيرة للقتلة الحقيقين والتضحية بشخصيات لانعرف حتى اسماءها.

وحتى طلب القتل جاء بصيغة “القصاص” ليتيح لأولياء الدم (الذين تبتزهم نفس فرقة القتل الصغيرة) العفو!

@aalodah
د. عبدالله العودة

“We categorically reject the Saudi trial in the Khashoggi case and its resulting judgments,” said the statement.

“The trial is unfair, the Saudi judiciary is corrupt and not independent, and the main suspect in the case is the Saudi Crown Prince, who controls the conduct of the trials.”

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The signatories in the statement said they condemned Saudi authorities using the late journalist’s family members to “whitewash the country’s judiciary, … dwarfing Khashoggi’s case”.

It said Khashoggi’s family or some of its members did not have their full freedom to say what they wanted.

“[The] fact is that the issue does not concern Jamal Khashoggi’s family only, but rather is an issue of public opinion as Khashoggi was a political writer who criticised the political system and was killed for that.”

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Omaima al-Najjar, a Saudi activist, said it was imperative to continue pushing for Khashoggi’s case as one framed within freedom of speech. It would remain in the public eye for several reasons, she said.

“What we intend to do is continue to flag the case as a fight for freedom of speech and call for an independent transparent trial carried by international laws and not by Sharia laws that enable a murder case to escape penalty through a pardon or blood money,” al-Najjar said.

“There was never closure of the case since the body was never found,” she said. “The Turkish authorities are also still keeping records of the audio of the killing – which is described by the UN as chilling and graphic – that they could leak at any time.”

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Al-Najjar accused the Saudi authorities of trying to find ways to spare the lives of those who committed the crime.

“There have been ongoing trials of the case where international observers are allowed to attend but without translators. The trial has been a complete joke and I would describe it as a theatre.”

New details revealed on Khashoggi’s murder
‘Martyr for a cause’
Some activists also shared on social media a Saudi Supreme Court document from six years ago that said there can be no pardoning of perpetrators in homicide cases.

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Under the Islamic law followed by Saudi Arabia, death sentences could be commuted if the victim’s family pardons the perpetrator.

But activists argue this applies to cases of family disputes or personal grievances, and not in a political case like Khashoggi’s.

“The public prosecution’s framing of the punishment [of Khashoggi’s killers] as ‘retribution’ from the outset made it clear there was an intention to exonerate his murderers by way of a pardon from the family,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, a Saudi academic at Georgetown University.

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“Unfortunately, what happened was expected.”

Karen Attiah, editor at The Washington Post for which Khashoggi wrote columns, said his sons had “surrendered and allowed the murderers of their father to go free”.

“We the sons of the martyr, Jamal Khashoggi – That we have pardoned the killer of our father – God have mercy on his soul – for God’s sake, as we all seek and hope for God’s reward.”

Jamal’s sons have surrendered and allowed the murderers of their father to go free. No justice.

But Abdulaziz Almoayyad, a Saudi activist based in Dublin, said he disagreed with any backlash directed towards the Khashoggi family. NobleReporters learnt

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“It is immoral for the media to focus such attention on Khashoggi’s family, especially since it is clear they are being pressured by the fascist Saudi regime,” he said.

“They are in the lap of autocracy, and we have no right to criticise or judge what they say,” he added, calling Khashoggi a “martyr for a cause”.

‘Parody of justice’
On Friday, Agnes Callamard, the UN rapporteur for extrajudicial executions, said the “shocking” decision by Khashoggi’s sons to “forgive” their father’s killers was just another step in Saudi Arabia’s “parody of justice”.

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Callamard said the move was “the final act in [Saudi Arabia’s] well-rehearsed parody of justice in front of an international community far too ready to be deceived”.

“Act One was their pretence of an investigation,” she said, adding that the team Riyadh sent to help with the probe had in fact been ordered to “clean up the crime scene”, accusing it of “obstruction of justice”.

Nearly a month after Khashoggi’s killing, a report by the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had issued orders to kill the Saudi dissident.

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In September 2019, the Saudi crown prince indicated that he assumed some personal responsibility for the crime since “it took place during his reign”.

Last December, the Saudi judiciary issued preliminary rulings in the case, according to which three prominent officials – Saud al-Qahtani, former adviser to MBS; Mohammed al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul in Istanbul; and Ahmed al-Asiri, the former deputy director of intelligence – were acquitted of the crime.

Around the same time, five people were sentenced to death and three others imprisoned for 24 years for the killing, with the prosecution not revealing the names of the convicts.

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The rulings were criticised by the international bodies as a “sham”, pointing that their purpose was for the kingdom to avoid holding the real perpetrators to account.

In the US, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said the rulings were a continuation of the kingdom’s efforts to distance Saudi leaders – including the crown prince – from the brutal assassination, adding that the crime was deliberate and not the result of a sudden decision or abnormal process.


#Newsworthy…

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Suspect kill Jamal Khashoggi – Son forgive killer.

Salah Khashoggi releases statement on Twitter as activists hit back saying murder case is not familial but political.


In the statement, posted on Friday, Salah Khashoggi said his family pardons those who took the reporter’s life in 2018 when he visited Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.

“In this blessed night of the blessed month (of Ramadan) we remember God’s saying: If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah.”

“Therefore, we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty” he added.

Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate where he had gone to get the necessary documents for his wedding. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found.

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Under Islamic law, death sentences in Saudi Arabia can be commuted if the victim’s family pardons the perpetrator, but it is not clear whether that will happen in this case.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, wrote on Twitter on Friday that “nobody has the right to pardon the killers”.

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is not a family case, it is not a mistake in a normal context!” he wrote on Twitter, saying Khashoggi’s murder was not due to a personal disagreement.

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“The authorities killed him because of his political work,” Assiri said. “His case is political, so keep silent!”

Assiri shared a statement signed by dozens of other Saudi activists and politicians, refuting what they called the repackaging of Khashoggi’s murder by the Saudi authorities into a familial one.

“We reject the use of Saudi authorities of some of Khashoggi’s family members to whitewash the country’s judiciary and dwarfing Khashoggi’s case,” the statement said, adding that Khashoggi’s family or at least some members of it do not have their full freedom to say what they want.

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“Secondly, and more importantly, the fact is that the issue does not concern Jamal Khashoggi’s family only, but rather is an issue of public opinion as Khashoggi was a political writer who criticised the political system and was killed for that.”

Saudi officials say he had no role, although in September 2019 MBS indicated some personal accountability, saying the grisly killing “happened under my watch”.

Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death and three to jail over Khashoggi’s murder last December. The suspects were put on trial in secretive proceedings in the capital Riyadh.

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The trials were condemned by the United Nations and rights groups. UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard accused Saudi Arabia of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of the 2018 killing to go free.

However, Salah Khashoggi said of the December verdict: “It has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved.”


#Newsworthy…

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