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Rights group calls for investigation of Saudi Crown Prince

November 27, 2018

Human Rights Watch has called on Argentina to investigate Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for murder and war crimes. Argentina has a clause in its consitution that could give it the ability to do so.

Mohammed bin Salman
Image: Getty Images/F. Nureldine

Human Rights Watch has asked Argentina to use a war crimes clause in its constitution to investigate the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or, MbS as he has styled himself, in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as possible crimes against humanity in Yemen.

Argentina's constitution recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture. This means that judicial authorities can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed.

Human Rights Watch said its submission was sent to federal judge Ariel Lijo. Neither Lijo's office nor the office of Argentina's public prosecutor responded to requests for comment.

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director, said the international rights group took the case to Argentina because Prince Mohammed will attend the opening of the G20 summit this week in Buenos Aires.

"We submitted this info to Argentine prosecutors with the hopes they will investigate MbS's complicity and responsibility for possible war crimes in Yemen, as well as the torture of civilians, including Jamal Khashoggi," Whitson told Reuters news agency.

Citing judicial sources, Argentine media said it was extremely unlikely that the authorities would take up the case against the crown prince, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.

Khashoggi killing casts shadow

The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and United States resident, who was a critic of the crown prince, at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago has strained Saudi Arabia's ties with the West and damaged Prince Mohammed's image abroad.

Western nations are also calling for an end to the Saudi-led military campaign in neighboring Yemen, which was launched by Prince Mohammed.

Cases taking advantage of universal jurisdiction have had success in the past, most notably in 1998 when Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon was able to order the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London.

av/es (dpa, Reuters)

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