Saudi prince found guilty of murdering servant in hotel

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A Saudi prince has been found guilty of murdering his servant at a hotel in central London.

Bandar Abdulaziz, 32, was found beaten and strangled in the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone, on 15 February 2010.

The Old Bailey was told the assault by Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud had a "sexual element" and he had attacked Mr Abdulaziz many times before.

Al Saud, 34, had admitted manslaughter but denied murdering Mr Abdulaziz. He will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Champagne and cocktails

The Saudi prince was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an earlier attack in a hotel lift, a charge which he had denied.

The murder of Mr Abdulaziz was the final act in a "deeply abusive" master-servant relationship in which Al Saud carried out frequent attacks on his aide "for his own personal gratification".

The 34-year-old was fuelled by champagne and cocktails when he bit his servant hard on both cheeks during the attack on 15 February, the court heard.

The pair had just returned from a Valentine's Day night out when Al Saud launched the ferocious assault.

Jurors heard that Mr Abdulaziz was left so worn down and injured - having suffered a "cauliflower" ear and a swollen eye from previous assaults - that he let Al Saud kill him without a fight.

Image caption,
The pair had just returned from a Valentine's Day night out when Al Saud launched the assault

Al Saud then spent hours on the phone to a contact in Saudi Arabia trying to work out how to cover up what he had done.

The prince claimed he had woken in the afternoon to find he could not revive Mr Abdulaziz.

He said his servant's injuries were inflicted when he was attacked and robbed in Edgware Road, central London, a few weeks before.

But when police reviewed CCTV at the hotel, they found footage of Al Saud attacking his aide in a hotel lift.

Two assaults, on 22 January and 5 February, were captured on CCTV.

In the first of them, the Saudi royal could be seen beating Mr Abdulaziz with his fists and elbows as he cowered in the corner.

In court the prince's lawyers tried to cover up evidence of Al Saud's homosexuality.

If he ever returns to his home country he faces the possibility of execution - not because of the murder, but because being gay is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia.

The verdict means a long jail term for the prince, who is a member of one of the world's richest and most powerful dynasties.

Al Saud, who lived in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, told police his father was a nephew of the Saudi king and his mother was a daughter of the monarch.

Outside court, Det Ch Insp John McFarlane said: "The defendant used his position of power, money and authority over his victim Bandar to abuse him over an extended period of time."

"This verdict clearly shows no-one, regardless of their position, is above the law," he added.

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