A French court, on September 13, has handed a 10-month suspended sentence to Saudi Princess Hassa bint Salman who is the sister of the crown prince, over charges of instructing her bodyguard to beat her plumber at her luxury residence in Paris in 2016. The sister of the de facto ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state was also ordered by the Paris court to pay a fine of 10,000 euros ($11,000).
Hassa bint Salman is accused of getting her plumber beaten, held captive, and humiliated. Her list of legal charges included complicity in an act of intentional violence, complicity in illegal confinement and complicity in theft. Along with her, the bodyguard Rani Saidi was handed an eight-month suspended sentence and a 5,000 euro fine for the harm he did to the plumber, Ashraf Eid. A civil hearing of the case is scheduled for March 5 over possible damages.
As per Eid's statement, he was working on the seventh floor of Avenue Foch owned by the Saudi Princess and was later called to the fifth floor to fix a washbasin. In his routine, he had to take image of the repairs. Just then the Princess flew into sudden rage and accused him of taking her photograph in the reflection of the basin.
He was then tied up and made to kiss the feet of the Princess. He added that the Princess also ordered her Bodyguard to literally "kill him" and abused him of being a "dog". The plumber was allowed to leave only after several hours of captivity and his phone was destroyed, he said in his statement. Eid's lawyer, Georges Karouni praised the "strength" of his client.
The sister of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was tried in absentia following an arrest warrant issued in December 2017. But she was not present for her hearing since the start of the hearing this year. The penalty and punishment for the Princess was stricter and heavier than what was demanded by the prosecutors, who had sought a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 5,000 euros ($5,480). Stating that the allegations on the Princess were unfounded, her lawyers said that the conduct of the plumber too was questionable as he charged a bill of $23,000 for his work.
One of her lawyers, Emanuel Moyne also found the plumber's accusation "fanciful" and added that he was in no way forced to stay in the Princess' apartment, emphasizing on proving the innocence of the Princess. Another lawyer of hers, Yassine Bouzrou called the ruling "incomprehensible" and accused the court of missing out on key elements. The Princess' bodyguard Saidi argued that he had merely come to the aid of the Princess in a tussle with Eid where he feared the plumber was taking photos to sell to Arab media outlets.
Bint Salman, daughter of King Salman, is lionised in Saudi state-run media for her charity work and women's rights campaigning. The trial has turned out to be a bad portrayal of the image of the Saudi kingdom. The murder of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and imprisonment of female activists had already tarnished the image of the country. The crown Prince is also believed to be the driving force behind the Saudi military intervention in Yemen, where tens of thousands have died.