Saudi prince could face death penalty over gay claims: Court



Saudi prince could face death penalty over gay claims: Court London: A Saudi prince accused of murdering his servant in Britain could face the death penalty in his homeland over allegations of homosexuality, a London court heard on Friday.

Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud, 34, who is a grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, is accused of killing Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz in a top London hotel on February 15 after abusing him for weeks.

The prince is alleged to have murdered the servant in a ferocious attack with a "sexual element". His lawyer John Kelsey-Fry has denied suggestions that the two men were in a gay relationship. Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema told England's Old Bailey central criminal court: "Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and carries the death penalty which is still applied in some cases.

"The country in which any alleged acts took place would have little bearing on the likelihood of prosecution as the Saudi legal system is based on the sharia law which is considered to be universal."

She said prosecution would be a matter for the Saudi authorities but can depend on the wishes of the person's family. Some relatives push for the harshest penalty if they are deemed to have shamed the family, she said.

Gay Saudis have been granted asylum in Britain on the basis they could face prosecution, "and potentially the death penalty -- or harm if they returned", Cheema said. Kelsey-Fry said the Saudi law as described to the court would only apply "if it were the case that the defendant had engaged in homosexuality".

The prince, whose mother is one of King Abdullah's daughters, denies murder and a second charge of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an earlier alleged assault in a hotel lift.

Bureau Report