Saudi Crown Prince to Risk Arrest at G20

Argentine prosecutors reviewing request to lay charges
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2018 8:07 AM CST
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in Riyadh on Oct. 24, 2018.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

(Newser) – Mohammed bin Salman has a very good reason to skip the G20 summit in Buenos Aires this week. Should he arrive as planned on Friday, Argentine prosecutors are considering charging Saudi Arabia's crown prince with war crimes and torture related to mass civilian casualties in military operations in Yemen, as well as the Oct. 2 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, reports the Guardian. Human Rights Watch has argued the universal jurisdiction statute in Argentine law should be used to prosecute the crown prince, in a request received by federal prosecutor Ramiro González. He must now decide if the constitutional definition of universal jurisdiction—which generally allows states to claim authority over crimes committed elsewhere—applies.

It's not an easy question; the UN has been debating the definition of universal jurisdiction since 2009, with Argentina's delegate recently acknowledging the risk of politically motivated attacks. HRW notes "indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes on civilians and civilian objects" by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen "indicate possible war crimes … if carried out with criminal intent." The group also mentions a blockade that's left the country of 28 million on the brink of famine. The crown prince's trip to Buenos Aires "could make the Argentine courts an avenue of redress for victims of abuses unable to seek justice in Yemen or Saudi Arabia," its executive director adds. Still, the crown prince remained confirmed to attend the G20 as of Monday, with local media describing a case against him as unlikely, per Reuters. (President Trump has defended him.)

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