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Rights Group Urges Argentina to Charge Saudi Crown Prince at G20

Tunisians take part in a protest, opposing the visit of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 27, 2018.

Human Rights Watch has urged Argentine prosecutors to consider bringing criminal charges against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is due to join world leaders in Buenos Aires this week for the G20 summit.

The New York-based rights group said it had filed a submission with Argentine prosecutors calling on them to invoke the country's universal jurisdiction statute to prosecute the crown prince for alleged war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

"Argentine prosecutorial authorities should scrutinize Mohammed bin Salman's role in possible war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in Yemen," HRW director Kenneth Roth said.

"The submission also highlights his possible complicity in serious allegations of torture and other ill treatment of Saudi citizens, including the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the rights group said in a statement.

Bin Salman is the kingdom's de facto ruler and defense minister.

Argentina's constitution recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture. That means its judicial authorities "can investigate and prosecute crimes no matter where they were committed, and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or their victims," HRW said.

Argentine press reports said the prosecutor with responsibility for the case, Ramiro Gonzalez, has yet to decide whether to open an investigation.

The crown prince is scheduled to attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Friday and Saturday.

He has traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in recent days, and was expected Tuesday in Tunisia — where unions and human rights organizations have called for protests against his visit.

The tour comes weeks after the murder of Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

Riyadh initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed on October 2, before ultimately admitting he was murdered in what officials said was a "rogue" operation.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has concluded the crown prince was behind the killing.

Saudi Arabia has been put under intense international pressure over the killing and has brought charges against a number of suspects, while denying the crown prince was involved.