In what he claimed is "definitely not a whitewash" Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has concluded that an intelligence officer ordered Jamal Khashoggi's murder, not Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite all the evidence to the contrary in his possession.
At a news conference in Riyadh on Thursday, ashen faced and trembling Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan said the officer was tasked with persuading the dissident journalist to return to the Gulf kingdom. The agent was supposed to have a friendly chat and a quiet cup of tea with Mr Khashoggi and tell him how much the Crown Prince liked him that he forgave Mr Khashoggi for his criticisms.
Unfortunately the friendly chat resulted in Mr Khashoggi being given a lethal injection after a struggle in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, he added. Mr Khashoggi's body was then dismembered inside the consulate after his death using a bone saw which just happened to have been brought to Istanbul in a diplomat's suitcase.
The body parts were then handed over to a local "collaborator" for dispersal.
Mr Shalaan did not identify any of those charged with the murder but he said investigations had "revealed that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiations team" sent to Istanbul by deputy intelligence chief Gen Ahmed al-Assiri. He had failed to ask nicely for Mr Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia from his self-imposed exile in the United States.
"The crown prince did not have any knowledge about it," he insisted "please say you believe me".
Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman and Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, has denied any role in what he has called a "heinous crime that cannot be justified".
Critics believe it is highly unlikely he would not have been aware of the operation. Western governments with the exception of US "President" Donald Trump have issued a joint statement saying "pull the other one, lying bastard".
Defender of the free press, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said "the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government and you know who I mean" but that he does not believe King Salman gave it.