After days of conjecture, reports and 24 hours since U.S. President Donald Trump said “certainly looks like” Khashoggi is dead, Saudi Arabia has confirmed this fact.
In a late night news broadcast on Saudi’s state-run news channel, Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said on Saturday that preliminary results of investigations showed that Jamal Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a fight with people he met there (Saudi officials), state media reported.
"The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions.
However, a CNN reporter clarified that her sources mentioned that Khashoggi had died after he was put in a “choke-hold” during interrogation in the Saudi consulate.
Khashoggi went missing on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage. He hadn't been seen since.
This is the first time the kingdom has admitted Khashoggi has died after repeatedly denying any knowledge of his fate.
Saudi King Salman has also reportedly ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed, which will have one month to release a report on the facts of the case, according to state TV.
However this short statement which has come after weeks of intense media and governmental pressure across the globe, leaves many questions un-answered:
- How can the Crown Prince head the investigation since he himself is accused of ordering the killing of Jamal Khashoggi?
- On what basis has the blame been put on the 18 Saudi nationals who have been detained – what is the evidence against them?
- Why did a top Saudi Forensics official come to Turkey and carried with him a bone saw, if all that Saudi Officials wanted to do was to interrogate Khashoggi?
- What role did Saud al-Qahtani, who has publicly stated that he does not even tweet without the Crown Prince’s approval, play and what drove him to carry out this heinous murder?
- Where is the evidence that has been repeatedly referred to by the Turkish authorities?
- And will the U.S. government believe this explanation of the chain of events, which raises more questions and looks like an attempt to separate the Saudi royals from this crime?
Even the Saudi version of events show that Khashoggi’s murder has clear links to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman through his key aides and hence the days ahead are crucial to show if Saudi Arabia embraces him and risks the coming sanctions.