It was designed as a makover trip. With stops in the Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia, before crossing the Atlantic southbound. But a sign hanging in the Tunisian capital forced the group to reassess how to face that last leg of the trip. The Saudi Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS, as the global press calls him), consulted with his legal advisors before deciding on the continuity of his tour to Buenos Aires to attend the G20 Summit. The image of the heir to the crown with a chainsaw in his hand, shown on the Tunisian banner, reminded everyone of the killing Bin Salman has been accused of for weeks. Bringing back the ghost of dictator Augusto Pinochet and the possibility of ending up in jail like it happened to him in 1998 in Great Britain.
It was with an electric saw that the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi might have been dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and everything indicates that the execution was ordered by MBS. The Chilean general brings a past so harsh to digest as the image of the heir.
Pinochet traveled to London to undergo surgery, supported by his friend, former Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher, and ended up in prison for eight months.
Universal justice had been served, that time embodied by the famous judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain. Crimes against humanity have no borders. When not judged and condemned in the place where they where committed, any judge can intervene. That was the case of Pinochet and, now, also the case of Prince Bin Salman, who has a request from the prestigious organization for the defense of human rights, Human Rights Watch.
They want him to be arrested and tried in our country. The case fell into the hands of Argentine judge Ariel Lijo who has not yet ruled on the matter. If MBS decides to land in Ezeiza, his luck could be played in Argentina.
The poster that horrified the prince was hanging outside the building of the union of Tunisian journalists when the official caravan of Saudi passed by, in its way to the presidential palace where Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was waiting. Nearby, dozens of journalists and human rights activists had gathered to protest the presence of Bin Salman. Several of the demonstrators also carried saws in their hands. The placards read "Do not come to contaminate our revolution with your hands stained in blood" and "Murderer is not welcome."
After weeks of contradictory explanations, the Riyadh government admitted that the dissident writer and journalist was killed on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey at the hands of a "death squad" sent from the kingdom. Khashoggi, who lived in exile in Washington, had come to Istanbul to obtain a certificate that would allow him to marry a Turkish teacher. He had the consul's reassurance that nothing was going to happen to him.
According to the recordings released by the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as soon as he entered the building, Khashoggi was attacked, beaten savagely, and his body dismembered and dissolved in acid. Among the men who committed the murder were some of the security collaborators closest to the prince nevertheless the Saudis maintain that MBS had no knowledge of the operation.
The United State's President Donald Trump rushed to defend the prince and detached him from the murder. He confessed that he could not antagonize the leader of a country that was buying more than $ 1 billion in airplanes and weapons from the United States. And even, dismissed a CIA investigation that corroborates that the prince was the one who gave the order to kill the journalist. Now, the possible presence of Bin Salman in Buenos Aires bothers Trump – the White House refused to confirm or dismiss a private meeting between them – as well as with British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron. Both in London and in Paris, not only does the murder provoke revulsion, but videos coming from Yemen where hundreds of thousands of people are starving because of the war launched by the Saudi forces against the Hutian rebels are also followed with horror. Bin Salman refuses to resume peace talks and that is another charge for which he is sought in international justice.
The journalist Ernesto Ekaizer tells in his book "Yo Augusto" that General Pinochet exclaimed "You have no right to do this, you can not arrest me! I am here on a secret mission!", when he was arrested on the night of October 16th of 1998 at the London Clinic in the British capital.
The Chilean dictator (1973-1989) had traveled to Europe to undergo a spinal operation. He believed that since he had proclaimed himself a senator for life in Chile, he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. But it was a private trip and the Chilean embassy had not officially informed the United Kingdom. The situation was seized by the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who issued an international arrest warrant and requested his extradition to Spain for crimes committed in the context of Operación Condor (the association of the Latin American dictatorships of that time to persecute and eliminate opponents). They were 503 days of imprisonment, and although the British justice finally did not authorize the transfer to Spain and Pinochet returned free to Santiago, the case marked global jurisprudence on crimes against humanity.
Pinochet's arrest showed that judges can act against violators of human rights in third countries and that it is possible to seek justice transnationally. In this way, it is about avoiding impunity for the most atrocious crimes, for which there would be no punishment if it depended on the internal justice of each country.
In addition to the Pinochet case, there are several other examples of this universal justice, such as the Nuremberg trials against Nazi criminals or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Now, the crown prince is in that same position, the man who was destined to modernize and democratize the stubborn Saudi Arabia dominated by Wahhabi clerks (those who strictly observe the Koranic law of the VI century).
If the Human Rights Watch's request was executed, it would put the government of President Mauricio Macri in a very difficult position. The host of the summit of the twenty most important leaders in the world should hand over justice to one of their guests. The Argentine justice for now gave signs that it does not want to meddle in such a delicate matter and in which the maximum global powers are involved. But should he change his position, the Saudi prince could be forced to leave the center of Costa Salguero's to go to the judge's office.