Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time on Friday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the regime’s consulate in Turkey, claiming he got into a “fist fight” that cost him his life.
The assessment by the Saudi attorney general was broadcast on state television.
The New York Post reports,
The broadcast also reported that five top officials have been fired and 18 Saudi nationals detained as suspects in the death.
“Preliminary investigations carried out by the Public Prosecution Office into the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal bin Ahmad Khashoggi revealed that the discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him during his presence at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul [leading] to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace,” the Saudi prosecutors’ statement read.
“The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who critics says may have ordered the killing himself — was said to be leading the commission investigating the death.
The axed officials include the crown prince’s adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.
The attorney general also said Saudi King Salman has made a request for the “urgent need” to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence services.
The king ordered a committee of top government agencies to further investigate and issue a report within a month.
The international community has speculated for more than two weeks about whether the Saudis would hold anyone accountable for the Oct. 2 disappearance of Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince and a columnist for The Washington Post.
Critics of the regime said the new explanation of what happened to the dissident journalist was beyond belief.