A human rights group from Yemen has filed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris, who is currently visiting France on an official visit.
The Legal Center for Rights and Development’s lawyer filed the lawsuit against the crown prince for the ongoing war in Yemen. The lawsuit claims bin Salman specifically targeted civilians during coalition airstrikes against Houthi rebels.
One of the lawyers on the case, Joseph Breham, said while France is bound to investigate the claims of the lawsuit while bin Salman was in France, his diplomatic immunity will provide him a blanket against arrest.
The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, debunked the claims of the lawsuit. According to him, the case should be filed against the Houthis who were responsible for stealing humanitarian aids, using human shields and going back on peace agreements.
However, the complaint by the Yemeni group is set to initiate a formal judicial inquiry by a French investigating judge.
“Mr. Bin Salman’s immunity does not prevent judges from investigating the case nor, when he has no longer a rank as head of state or when he comes on a private visit to France, from questioning him at that time, or eventually from trying and convicting him,” Breham said.
The lawsuit claims “massive and indiscriminate attacks” against civilians in Yemen comprised of torture as described by the U.N. guidelines and caused suffering to the entire nation in the name of fighting rebels.
It also says the Saudi coalition strikes have resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Yemen with thousands of civilian deaths from bombings of residential areas, schools and markets indiscriminately.
Breham also emphasized the role of bin Salman, who was defense minister at the time the airstrikes on Yemen initiated. He claimed the crown prince gave instructions for the “criminal torture” endured by the citizens.
Ever since bin Salman became the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, his diplomatic approach has been hailed as revolutionary by many, however, critics say while there have been changes in the way the kingdom works — like opening a cinema for the first time since decades and allowing women to drive — no substantial changes have been made. The press is still not free to criticize the leaders or form point of views that may contradict with the government.
Bin Salman is set to meet President Emmanuel Macron on his visit.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Yoan Valat/Pool via Reuters