The sister of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to be put on trial in Paris next month for allegedly ordering her bodyguard to beat up a workman in the French capital, a legal source told AFP on Wednesday.
The case against Princess Hassa bint Salman stems from an alleged assault in her apartment on the ultra-expensive Avenue Foch in west Paris in September 2016.
The trial is due to be judged on July 9, the source said.
The alleged victim has said he was hired to carry out refurbishment work at Princess Hassa’s apartment and that she became angry after he took a photograph, accusing him of wanting to sell it to the media.
He alleges the princess, said to be in her 40s, then ordered the bodyguard to beat him up.
Le Point magazine reported that the princess shouted: “Kill him, the dog, he doesn’t deserve to live”.
The workman says he was punched in the face, his hands were tied and he was forced to kiss the princess’s feet during an hours-long ordeal.
His tools were confiscated before he was allowed to leave.
AFP reported at the time of the incident that his injuries were so severe that he was ordered off work for eight days.
– Bodyguard charged –
The bodyguard was charged on October 1, 2016 with armed violence, theft, issuing death threats and holding someone against their will.
Princess Hassa is likely to be absent from the trial as she has not been apprehended under an international arrest warrant issued in 2017.
Lionised in the Saudi media for her charity work and women’s rights campaigning, Princess Hassa is sister to Prince Mohammed, one of the most powerful leaders in the Middle East.
Known by his initials MBS, 32-year-old Prince Mohammed has shaken up Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East since he was elevated to crown prince in 2017.
Widely regarded as de facto leader under his 82-year-old father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Prince Mohammed has presented himself as a champion of moderate Islam.
But the crown prince has faced a diplomatic crisis since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.
The Saudis, after initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi’s disappearance, finally acknowledged that a team killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.
Princess Hassa’s legal case is not the first time Saudi royalty have had a brush with the law in France.
In 2013 French authorities ordered assets to be seized from Saudi princess Maha al-Sudairi, wife of the then interior minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, over an unpaid luxury hotel tab of nearly six million euros ($6.8 million).
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