Saudi princess tried in absentia over alleged attack on worker

Saudi princess tried in absentia over alleged attack on worker

Princess Hassa accused of getting bodyguard to beat man for taking photo in Paris home

The sister of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is going on trial in absentia in Paris accused of conspiring to kidnap and beat a worker who was refurbishing her luxury apartment in Paris.

Hassa bint Salman’s French lawyer said she denied the charges of complicity in armed violence, complicity in holding someone against their will and theft against an Egyptian-born man who was carrying out repairs at her family’s Paris residence on the exclusive Avenue Foch in September 2016.

France issued an international arrest warrant for the princess in November 2017, and the hearing was expected to go ahead in her absence.

Hassa is the sister of Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne. She is often celebrated in the Saudi state-run media for her charity work and campaigning for women’s rights.

The 43-year-old is accused of conspiring to get her bodyguard to beat the worker, Ashraf Eid, whom she allegedly suspected of taking a photograph of the room he was decorating. She allegedly accused him of planning to sell the photo.

According to the indictment, seen by Reuters, Eid told police Hassa’s bodyguard bound his hands and punched and kicked him after she accused him of filming her on his phone.

Eid told police that as he was being beaten, the princess said to him: “You’ll see how you speak to a princess, how you speak to the royal family.”

In an account given to Le Point news magazine in France, the worker claimed that the princess shouted: “Kill him, the dog, he doesn’t deserve to live.”

The princess’s lawyer, Emmanuel Moyne, said the existence of the international arrest warrant against her ruled out her attendance at Tuesday’s hearing, and an offer to enable investigators to question her by video conference had been refused.

Moyne told Reuters the investigation was based on falsehoods and said she had never made the alleged remarks about the worker. “The princess is a caring, humble, approachable and cultured woman,” Moyne said. “Saudi law, and ensuring the princess’s security, prohibits taking any image of the princess.”

The bodyguard was placed under formal investigation on suspicion of armed violence, theft and holding someone against their will and was denied bail in October 2016.

His lawyer told Agence France-Presse: “We hope that the judges will take into account the numerous contradictions and incoherences of the plaintiff. The medical records contradict the version of events of the plaintiff and show that he lied.”

The bodyguard has lodged a separate case for defamation against the worker. The Saudi government communications office has not commented on the case.

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