The only daughter of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been found guilty by a Paris court of charges that she ordered her bodyguard to detain and strike a plumber for taking photos at the Saudi royal family’s apartment in the French capital.
Prosecutors alleged that Princess Hessa bint Salman, 42, became enraged when she saw the plumber, named as Ashraf Eid, capturing her image in her exclusive Paris apartment, fearing the pictures could be used to harm her as the Saudi monarch’s daughter and the older half-sister of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
She left France shortly after the September 2016 incident at the apartment near the Champs-Elysees, and was not present for Thursday’s verdict and sentencing on multiple charges.
She was sentenced to a 10-month suspended prison sentence and a 10,000 euro ($16,050) fine.
Her bodyguard, Rani Saida, was found guilty on charges of violence, sequestration and theft of the plumber’s phone.
According to The Associated Press, the princess’ lawyer Emmanuel Moyne called the verdict “inexplicable” and said he would appeal.
However, the French-Egyptian plumber’s lawyer, Georges Karouni, saluted client Ashraf Eid’s “courage” in bringing the case and said the verdict was proof of “everyone equal before the law”, The Associated Press reported.
In a police interview, Mr Eid said the bodyguard tied him up at the princess’ bidding after he photographed a room so he could return 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,’” Mr Eid reported to police investigators.
Mr Eid said the bodyguard broke his phone and made him kiss the Saudi princess’ feet while his hands were bound behind his back during the three-hour ordeal.
Quoting from prosecution evidence, the presiding judge told the court the princess ordered her bodyguard to disparage the workman, calling him a “dog who doesn’t deserve to live”, AP reported.
The princess’ older half-brother Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gained notoriety in 2018 after the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul inside the Saudi consulate.