The sister of Saudi Arabia‘s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud is on trial in Paris, facing allegations she ordered a bodyguard to beat and humiliate a local craftsman who was renovating her luxury apartment three years ago.
Ashraf Eid, an Egyptian-born French national, alleges that the princess’s bodyguard attacked him after she accused him of taking photos and videos of her in September 2016, the judge recounted as proceedings began on Tuesday. He says the guard hit him, tied up his wrists, put a gun to his head and ordered him to kiss the princess’s feet.
Hassa bint Salman Al Saud is being tried in absentia on charges of armed violence and complicity to hold someone against their will. But a member of Princess Hassa’s defense team told CNN outside the courtroom that their client firmly denies the accusations and was requesting acquittal, insisting that media coverage of the case had been unfair to the Saudi royal.
Eid says he was working in a bathroom in the apartment on Paris’ exclusive Avenue Foch — owned by the Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud — and took photographs of the furniture “for reference” when he noticed the princess’s reflection in the mirror.
According to Eid’s account read in court, when the princess saw him she allegedly ordered her bodyguard Rani Saidi to take his phone. Eid claimed Saidi then manhandled Eid and kicked him in the face.
Eid alleged that the princess then insulted him, saying, “You’re all the same, bastards, dogs. You’ll see how you should speak to a princess, how one should speak to the royal family.”
He claims Saidi put a gun to the back of his head and gave him two choices: “Kiss the princess’s feet or risk further assault.”
Eid complained to police once he was released from the apartment. Police questioned the princess for two hours, then let her go. Three days later, she left the country.
An investigative judge tried to contact the princess several times but was unable to reach her, eventually issuing an international arrest warrant for her in 2017.
Saidi is also on trial and appeared in court Tuesday, and firmly refuted the allegations on the stand, saying he rushed to the princess’ side when he heard her screaming.
“I have never been violent. I did grab (Eid) and then I held him because I didn’t know his intentions,” the bodyguard said.
Saidi said he assumed the workman was planning to distribute the private photos of the princess because “every Arab wants to take her picture. She’s really famous.”
The judge replied, “No photos have been published of her since she was eight years old, so how would people even recognize her?”
Asked by the judge about the marks on Eid’s wrists seen by police after the incident, Saidi said he had no explanation.
Prosecutors have asked for a six-month suspended sentence for Princess Hassa, an eight-month suspended sentence for her bodyguard, and a 5,000 Euro ($5,600) fine for each.