PARIS — The only daughter of Saudi Arabia’s King Sal-man was put on trial in absentia Tuesday in Paris, accused of ordering her bodyguard to strike a plumber she suspected of taking photos and video at the Saudi royal family’s apartment in the French capital.
Prosecutors allege that Princess Hessa bint Salman became enraged when she saw the plumber allegedly capturing her image, as Saudi law prohibits taking photos of the Saudi monarch’s daughter.
The presiding judge, quoting from prosecution evidence, said on the trial’s opening day that the princess told her bodyguard to disparage the workman, calling him a “dog who doesn’t deserve to live.”
The princess, who is the older half-sister of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sal-man, has denied the allegations through her lawyer.
The French-Egyptian plumber, Ashraf Eid, told Paris police after the September 2016 incident that the bodyguard tied him up at the princess’ bidding after he photographed a room to help in returning furniture to its original layout once he finished his work.
“The princess noticed that her face was reflected in the bathroom and that she had been filmed. She called me a dog and called her bodyguard saying in Arabic, ‘This one, take his phone. He filmed me,’” Eid reported to police investigators.
Eid said bodyguard Rani Saida broke his phone and also made him kiss the Saudi princess’ feet while his hands were bound behind his back. The plumber did not attend court Tuesday.
Saida is being tried together with the princess. He denies being physically aggressive, but said it’s widely known no one is supposed to photograph the princess and alleged Eid “knew very well what he had done.”
He added that breaking Eid’s phone was “the biggest mistake” because “it deprives us showing that this gentleman took videos intentionally.”
The princess is being tried on charges of theft of a telephone, complicity in voluntary violence and complicity in sequestration, according to a French judicial official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Print Headline: Trial in absentia starts in Paris for Saudi princess