(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Reaction Skeptical To Saudi Government's Story About Writer's 'Fistfight' Death

October 20, 2018 - 10:24 am

ISTANBUL (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is demanding further clarity over the death of writer Jamal Khashoggi, after Saudi officials acknowledged Saturday that the Washington Post columnist was killed in a "fistfight" in its Istanbul consulate.

During a party conference in the eastern state of Thuringia on Saturday, Merkel referred briefly to Saudi Arabia and "the terrible events" surrounding Khashoggi's slaying on Oct. 2 saying "still nothing has been cleared up."

She added that "of course we are demanding that they be cleared up."

Germany has joined other nations in calling for a credible investigation into Khashoggi's death.

Berlin has long-standing economic ties with Riyadh that include significant arms shipments. According to official figures, the German government has authorized arms exports worth 254 million ($291 million) euros to Saudi Arabia since March.

Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia should "immediately produce" the body of Khashoggi so that independence forensic experts can conduct an autopsy in line with international standards.

The human rights group issued the appeal on Saturday after Saudi Arabia said the columnist for The Washington Post was killed in a "fistfight" in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, in a reversal from previous Saudi assertions that it knew nothing about Khashoggi's fate. The writer vanished after entering the consulate on Oct. 2.

Samah Hadid, Middle East director of campaigns for Amnesty International, says in a statement that the Saudi version of events can't be trusted and that whoever is responsible, regardless of their rank or status, should be brought to justice.

Hadid says an independent investigation ordered by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would be necessary to avoid a "Saudi whitewash" of circumstances surrounding the killing or any attempts by other governments to "sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative arms deals and other business ties with Riyadh."

Turkey is conducting its own investigation of the killing and has promised to publicize its results once the probe is complete.

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