Riyadh announces purge of senior officials but it is unclear whether claim journalist died in ‘fist-fight’ will be accepted by international community
Quoting the results of the preliminary investigation from the nation’s public prosecutor, the government-controlled al-Akhbariya television said Mr Khashoggi died unintentionally during a “fist fight” with people who “met him during his presence at the consulate” on 2 October. However, it did not disclose where his remains were taken.
It also announced that King Salman had dismissed deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s nearest adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, who oversees the kingdom’s communications strategy, as part of the investigation. It added that 18 more suspects have been arrested and remain under investigation..
It is the first time Saudi officials have admitted the journalist is dead, having initially claimed Mr Khashoggi had left the consulate after his visit. The last time the Washington Post columnist was seen alive was entering the diplomatic residence.
In addition to the dismissals and arrests, King Salman announced a plan to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence services. Spearheading the effort will be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The explanation follows repeated denials from senior Saudi officials that Riyadh had anything to do with Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.