Argentine prosecutor takes step toward possible probe of Saudi crown prince

Argentine prosecutor takes step toward possible probe of Saudi crown prince

A handout photo made available by the G-20 Organization shows the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s embattled crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 28, 2018, for the G-20 summit. EPA-EFE/G20 ORGANIZATION/HANDOUT


An Argentine prosecutor, acting on a complaint filed this week by Human Rights Watch , on Wednesday asked a judge to authorize a request for information from Saudi Arabia and Yemen concerning alleged war crimes committed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman , judicial authorities told EFE.

That request could lead to an investigation of Prince Mohammed by Argentine authorities under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.

Judge Ariel Lijo is certain to grant prosecutor Ramiro Gonzalez’ request, those authorities said.

Prince Mohammed arrived in Buenos Aires on Wednesday for the G-20 summit , which on Friday and Saturday will bring together leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies.

The visit is part of the first foreign trip the crown prince has embarked on since a crisis erupted over the killing of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkey and the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency have linked the Saudi crown prince to the killing.

The complaint that the New York-based HRW submitted to Argentine judicial authorities outlines its public findings on alleged violations of international law committed since 2015 by the Saudi-led coalition during the armed conflict in Yemen, noting that Prince Mohammed may face criminal liability as Saudi Arabia’s defense minister.

HRW said on Monday in announcing the filing of its complaint that the Saudi-led coalition has carried out “scores of indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes on civilians and civilian objects in Yemen” during its war against Iran-backed rebels.

The coalition also has “imposed and maintained a naval and air blockade on Yemen that has severely restricted the flow of food, fuel and medicine to civilians. Millions of civilians face hunger and disease,” the rights group said.

HRW also said Prince Mohammed is potentially complicit in serious cases of torture and other ill-treatment of Saudi citizens, including the murder of Khashoggi, which the Saudi government says was carried out by rogue intelligence agents without the crown prince’s knowledge.

“Argentina’s constitution recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture. This means that judicial authorities in the country are empowered to investigate and prosecute these crimes no matter where they were committed, and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or their victims,” the rights group said.