Following the prosecutor’s decision, Judge Lijo sent information requests to the Turkish and Yemeni governments and the International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiring about whether they are investigating the allegations. He also sent a request to the Argentine Foreign Ministry on the question of the crown prince’s immunity and diplomatic status. Neither Saudi Arabia or Yemen are members of the ICC.
The Human Rights Watch submission described violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in Yemen, for which Mohammed bin Salman may face criminal liability as Saudi Arabia’s defense minister. The submission also highlighted his possible complicity in alleged torture and other ill-treatment of Saudi citizens, including the murder and alleged torture of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The inquiry to Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the crown prince’s diplomatic status in Argentina is intended to help determine if Argentina’s Supreme Court should directly examine the case. The Argentine Constitution provides that, in certain kinds of cases involving foreign officials, the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction.
If the judiciary decides to open a formal investigation, the investigating federal judge would then gather further evidence to establish Mohammed bin Salman’s role in international crimes
Existing immunities should not stop the Argentine judiciary from investigating the case, Human Rights Watch said. If an inquiry into the allegations of war crimes or torture is opened, the status of Mohammed bin Salman’s immunity could potentially be challenged as it would raise important legal questions regarding the extent of immunity for grave international crimes.
“Argentine judicial authorities should move quickly, within the boundaries of Argentine and international law, and demonstrate that they are committed to accountability for the most serious crimes,” Roth said.