'Saudi royal' quizzed over London hotel killing

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Detectives were quizzing a man claiming to be part of the Saudi Arabian royal family today after an assistant was found strangled in his hotel room.

The 33-year-old was arrested after police discovered the body of a 32-year-old man at the five-star Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, central London.

Police were called by staff who found the victim with serious head injuries in a third-floor suite.

Investigators arrested the Saudi Arabian man several hours later at an address in Westminster.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the death was being probed by detectives from the force's homicide and serious crime command.

A post mortem examination found the victim died as a result of "manual compression of the neck" and that he also suffered head injuries.

Detectives have applied for a warrant to extend the period of time the suspect can be held in custody until tomorrow evening.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Officers believe they know the identity of the deceased, who is from Saudi Arabia, but await formal identification before releasing his name. Inquiries to trace his next of kin are under way."

The Saudi royal family, known as the House of Saud, has about 7,000 members, with the most influence wielded by about 200 closest to King Abdullah.

It is understood the suspect in custody, who travelled to Britain as a tourist, cannot claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, only senior royals and diplomats may qualify and a suspect's government can waive immunity.

Sources said his link to the Saudi royal family may be "minor" if there is any link at all.

Rooms at the Grade II-Listed eight-storey Landmark hotel, built in 1899, can cost more than £2,000 a night.

It is a favourite hang-out for celebrities and guests have included Kate Moss, Sean Combs, Myleene Klass and former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher.

Francis Green, hotel general manager, said: "Unfortunately The Landmark Hotel, London, can confirm the death of a guest staying at the hotel.

"Police were informed immediately and have launched an investigation surrounding this incident and we are co-operating fully with them and therefore unable to comment further.

"This is an isolated incident and our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased."

A Saudi Embassy spokesman said: "We have no information on the issue and the matter is currently with police."