Saudi Arabia on Saturday conceded journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as Turkey has alleged. The Prince, known as MBS, most recently visited the country and had high-profile meetings with many of Hollywood's major players and Silicon Valley tech moguls, as well as President Trump. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who fell out with the reigning monarchy, was also a columnist for the Washington Post.
Beyond its statements attributed to anonymous officials, Saudi Arabia offered no evidence to support its claims.
On the day of Khashoggi's disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources.
In contrast, Turkish media have reported that Turkish investigators have evidence, including recordings, that Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad sent to the consulate ahead of his arrival.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has called for strong sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its party in Khashoggi's death, expressed doubt about the official Saudi explanation.
The prominent journalist had written columns critical of the Saudi government while living in self-imposed exile in the US.
Maas also said he opposes exporting German weapons to Saudi Arabia "as long as we don't know what happened there".
Observers are questioning whether Saudi Arabia's Western allies will find their account of a "botched rendition" convincing - and whether it will persuade them not to take punitive action against them. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, was an exception.
When asked if he found the Saudi regime's explanation for the death credible, he replied: "I do".
Saudi Arabia is the largest buyer of American weaponry in the world, and it inked a $110 billion weapons deal with the Trump administration in 2017.
Trump meanwhile called the Saudi announcement a "good first step", but said what happened to Khashoggi was "unacceptable".
He also noted high-ranking Turkish officials have pledged to prevent a "cover-up".
Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry now says the journalist was killed after being placed in a choke-hold during a fist fight that broke out inside the consulate on October 2.
The White House acknowledged the announcement and said it would follow the internal investigations into Khashoggi's death, and "advocate for justice" that is "timely, transparent and in accordance with due process". "They can undergo their own investigation, but the U.S. administration must make its own independent, credible determination of responsibility for Khashoggi's murder".
Observers said the strategy Turkey deployed over Khashoggi's killing - controlled leaks to the media - gives it political leverage over Saudi Arabia - Ankara and Riyadh are at odds on a number of regional issues, including a Saudi-led boycott of Qatar and relations with Iran.
Saud Qahtani, a powerful adviser to Prince Mohammed, also was sacked.
Not satisfied with the Saudi story on how journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in Turkey, EU leaders are demanding an in-depth probe, with Germany's foreign minister saying that Berlin shouldn't sell arms to Riyadh until it's finished.
"I will remain a loyal servant to my country for all times", he wrote.