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British jury finds Saudi prince guilty of murder

A grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is convicted of murder and grievous bodily harm in the death of his manservant, found dead in bed at an elegant London hotel.

October 19, 2010|By Janet Stobart, Los Angeles Times
  • An undated image taken from a closed circuit television camera shows Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz, right, reacting after having been kicked and punched by Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, left, in an elevator in the Landmark Hotel in London.
An undated image taken from a closed circuit television camera shows Bandar… (AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from London — After an hour and a half of deliberation, a British jury on Tuesday found a Saudi prince guilty of murdering a manservant who died of head injuries early this year.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, the grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, was convicted of murder and grievous bodily harm in the death of Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz, who was found dead in bed at the elegant Landmark London Hotel on Feb. 15. The victim had suffered broken ribs and bruises to his head and body, and there were signs of brain injuries, strangulation and bite marks to the cheek, the jury heard.

Videos taken inside a hotel elevator and aired during the trial showed Saud kicking and punching Abdulaziz, who made little attempt at self-defense.

Saud initially told police that Abdulaziz had been attacked and robbed on central London's Edgware Road several weeks before his death. The prince said the two men had been out the night of Valentine's Day drinking heavily and that he awoke the next morning to find his servant dead.

Shortly before the trial the prince admitted to beating Abdulaziz, whom he described as a friend, but denied the murder charge.

During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw maintained that the two men had a sexual relationship, which Saud denied. The prince's attorney noted that homosexuality is against Sharia law and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

The court heard from hotel staffers as well as male escorts and masseurs who had visited the prince's room and said the two men seemed to have a sexual relationship.

Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane, who was in charge of the investigation, said outside court Tuesday that Saud "used his position of power and money and authority over his victim Bandar to abuse him over an extended period of time."

Saud faces a possible life sentence in Britain or deportation when he receives his sentence Wednesday.

Stobart is a staff writer in The Times' London Bureau.

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