Servant 'let Saudi prince kill him without fight'

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The Independent Online

A servant allegedly beaten and strangled by a Saudi prince died without even putting up a fight, a court heard today.

Bandar Abdulaziz, 32, was so worn down by the "sadistic" abuse he had suffered that he "let the defendant kill him", jurors were told.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud is accused of murdering Mr Abdulaziz in February at the central London hotel room they shared.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said they had a "master-servant" relationship in which the prince abused his aide for his "own personal gratification".

Mr Laidlaw said the victim's injuries showed the assault leading to his murder "was a really terrible, a really brutal attack".

He added: "So worn down by the violence, so subservient and submissive had Bandar become that he was incapable of any effective resistance.

"He was killed without apparently ever having fought back because the defendant was completely unharmed, without any mark at all, when he was examined at the police station. Bandar appears to have let the defendant kill him."

Saud, 34, denies murder and a second charge of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an earlier alleged attack in a hotel lift.

In his closing speech to an Old Bailey jury, Mr Laidlaw said: "The case serves as an example of how misleading some outward appearances can be.

"Witnesses have described how polite and well-mannered the defendant was. They spoke of his charm, his generosity with money."

Others had spoken of how the prince and his aide were "good friends" and jurors were also shown apparently "perfectly ordinary holiday snaps" of the two men.

But Mr Laidlaw said: "Beneath the surface this was a deeply abusive relationship which the defendant exploited, as the assaults in the lift so graphically demonstrate, for sadistic reasons, for his own personal gratification.

"The abuse extended beyond physical abuse. There was plainly an emotional element and psychological element to it."

Those who had seen the victim described "how frightened he looked, how fragile he appeared, how timid he seemed", said Mr Laidlaw.

Photographs of Mr Abdulaziz stored on a mobile phone "plainly proved" that there was also a "sexual element" to the abuse, he added.

Mr Laidlaw described how after the victim's death, the prince had appeared "shocked and upset".

"He cried out in apparent anguish when told Bandar was dead and he may have shed tears. He was provided with tea and with support. How appearances can deceive. It was a complete performance by him. He had killed Bandar."

The prince said he wanted to help the police, Mr Laidlaw said.

"He wanted nothing of the sort. He wanted to save his own skin."

John Kelsey-Fry QC, defending, said it was a "truly bizarre case".

It was accepted that the prince killed Mr Abdulaziz but the suggestion that the victim let Saud kill him because he was so subservient was "an astonishing proposition", Mr Kelsey-Fry said.

He added: "In these two weeks of evidence the parts that really matter are not in dispute. The conclusions that you, the jury, might draw from the evidence as to the defendant's murderous intent is very much in dispute.

"The fact is the defendant was responsible for Bandar's death, whatever the true nature of the relationship between the defendant and the deceased.

"Whether Bandar was a slave, as one witness rather grotesquely suggested, or servant, or aide or travelling companion or friend - or, for that matter, lover - whatever that relationship was, the defendant must live with the fact that he is responsible for Bandar's death and suffer the consequences of an inevitable conviction for manslaughter.

"The defendant is guilty, it is accepted, of a very serious offence."

Mr Kelsey-Fry said the only "live factual evidential issues" in the case were about the alleged visit of a gay masseur to the prince's hotel room.

He told the jury that it may be thought that the issue was "of some significance to the defendant".

"To what extent the resolution of that issue will be of significance to the defendant's intent on the relevant night will be for you to judge."

Mr Kelsey-Fry questioned the prosecution's characterisation of the two men having a "master-servant" relationship.