Saudi prince 'killed servant in sexual attack'

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The Independent Online

A gay Saudi prince beat his servant to death in a London hotel room in a sexually motivated murder, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Saud, 34, killed Bandar Abdulaziz after subjecting him to weeks of sexual and physical abuse, the court heard.

Jurors were told that Mr Abdulaziz, an orphan who had been adopted by a middle-class family, had met the prince through friends and had been travelling with him for the past three years before being found beaten and strangled in a room they shared at the Landmark Hotel, in Marylebone, central London, on 15 February this year.

The jury heard how he was found in bed and had suffered injuries to his eye, lips, teeth, ears, brain, neck, back, rib and stomach. And bite marks on his cheeks, inflicted with "considerable force" had an "obvious sexual connotation".

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said that the injuries, some caused by a series of heavy blows to his head and face, revealed "the ferocity of the attack to which he had been subjected before he died" and said that the bloodstains found in the room were "consistent with the victim having been the subject of a series of separate assaults before he was killed".

The jury heard how officers from the Metropolitan Police had also examined CCTV footage from the hotel and found that the prince had attacked Mr Abdulaziz, 32, in the lift the previous month.

The court was told that, on the evening of Mr Abdulaziz's death, he and the prince had been drinking in the hotel bar until the early hours. That night a guest in the room below theirs had heard raised voices and loud noises that "sounded like furniture being knocked over".

The following day the defendant phoned Abadi Abadella, a "facilitator" from the Saudi embassy, to say that he had just woken up and that the could not wake Mr Abdulaziz. When Mr Abadella arrived said the prince was "very upset" and was crying.

When told that Mr Abdulaziz was dead, the prince "began to sob".

Mr Laidlaw said: "He then sat down and continued the conversation on the telephone, saying in Arabic to whoever was on the other end of the line words to the effect of 'I don't believe it' and 'I don't know'."

He was later arrested and, when asked, told police that he was heterosexual and had a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia and that he and Mr Abdulaziz were just friends. But, Mr Laidlaw said, "The evidence established quite conclusively that he is either gay or had homosexual tendencies."

The court heard that the prince – whose father is a nephew of the Saudi King and whose mother is the King's daughter – visited gay massage and escort agency websites and that two gay escorts had come to the hotel to perform sex acts on him. A mobile phone found in the hotel room had "compromising photographs" of Mr Abdulaziz "in which he can be seen to have been posed partially naked on a bed".

Mr Laidlaw added: "It is clear that his abuse of Bandar was not confined simply to physical beatings. There is clear evidence, over and above the bite marks, that there was also a sexual element to his mistreatment of the victim."

He said the covering up of his homosexuality might in other circumstances be explained by embarrassment or fear. But he added: "The defendant's concealing of the sexual aspect to his abuse of the victim was for altogether more sinister reasons and it tends to suggest that there was a sexual element to the circumstances of the killing."

Jurors were told that the prince had tried to clean up some of the blood and wash some of the victim's bloodstained clothing. And the court heard that Mr Abdulaziz's blood was found on the prince's underpants and semen was found on the back of the victim's pants, the court heard.

The prince admits manslaughter, but denies the charge of murder. The trial continues.