Saudi attorney general says 'fist fight' at Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to death
Saudi Arabia on Saturday admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during a "brawl" inside its Istanbul consulate, an explanation that President Donald Trump said he found credible.
The kingdom announced the arrest of 18 Saudis in connection with their probe and the sacking of two top officials.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was last seen on October 2 entering his country's consulate in Istanbul.
His disappearance had been shrouded in mystery and triggered an international crisis.
In the latest version of events from Riyadh, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said Khashoggi died after talks at the consulate devolved into an altercation, without disclosing any details on the whereabouts of his body.
"Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him... at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace," the attorney general said in a statement.
The Saudi king also ordered the setting up of ministerial body under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as MBS, to restructure the kingdom's intelligence agency and "define its powers accurately", state media said.
Deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and royal court media advisor Saud al-Qahtani, both top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were sacked.
Gulf ally, the UAE on Saturday, hailed Saudi Arabia for its response to the death of Khashoggi.
"The United Arab Emirates welcomes the decisions and the directives by King Salman," regarding the Khashoggi affair, state news agency WAM said.
US President Donald Trump said Friday that he found credible Saudi Arabia's assertion that Khashoggi died as a result of a fight.
"I do, I do," Trump said when asked if the Saudis' explanation was credible, while adding: "It's early, we haven't finished our review or investigation."
Saudi officials have roundly denied that Prince Mohammed had any involvement.
Saudi Arabia's admission comes after Turkish authorities widened their probe on Friday, searching a forest in Istanbul city for further clues.
* With AFP