Judicial authorities in Argentina are looking into whether they can press charges against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after he arrives in the country for the G20 summit, according to Human Rights Watch.
The NGO says it filed a submission with an Argentina federal prosecutor highlighting its findings on alleged war crimes in Yemen. Prince Salman, who has been Saudi Arabia’s defense minister since early 2015, should be held liable for any violations of international law, the group argued.
The alleged torture of Saudi human rights activists and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are also mentioned in the filing.
A CIA assessment reportedly concluded that Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey could not have happened without the crown prince’s order, but Saudi Arabia denies the charges.
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Argentina’s constitution recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture committed outside the country’s borders, according to Amnesty International.
The country’s courts are allowed to exercise their jurisdiction over foreign nationals who commit crimes in other countries, so long as their alleged crimes are violations of treaties and conventions to which Argentina is a party.
These include the Geneva Conventions and the 1954 Hague Convention.
“Argentine prosecutorial authorities should scrutinize Mohammed bin Salman’s role in possible war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in Yemen,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
“The crown prince’s attendance at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires could make the Argentine courts an avenue of redress for victims of abuses unable to seek justice in Yemen or Saudi Arabia.”
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The head of Argentina’s state prosecutors’ association Carlos Rivolo said the complaint against Prince Salman was referred to a prosecutor, who will then have to decide whether to open a formal probe, the New York Times reported.
According to the Times, Argentine officials said it’s highly unlikely that the investigation could lead to an arrest warrant before the G20 kicks off on Friday.
Prince Salman’s trip to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires will bring him face to face with world leaders for the first time since the killing of Washington Post journalist Khashoggi.
“A decision by Argentine officials to move toward investigation would be a strong signal that even powerful officials like Mohammed bin Salman are not beyond the reach of the law,” Roth said.
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“And Mohammed bin Salman should know that he may face a criminal probe if he ventures to Argentina.”
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