UAE sheikh faces civil lawsuit over Swiss bar incident

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An Italian-American man is suing a brother of the leader of the United Arab Emirates for assault after earlier legal action was thrown out by Swiss and European courts, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The man, Silvano Orsi, has accused Sheikh Falah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of hitting him on the face and head with a belt buckle after he refused a bottle of champagne at the bar of a luxury hotel in the Swiss city of Geneva in 2003.

"A complaint has just been filed in the canton of Geneva... against the sheikh himself and the director of the hotel," Orsi's attorney Pierre Bayenet told AFP.

Bayenet said Orsi was seeking damages over the incident in the civil lawsuit.

The sheikh, a brother of UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has maintained that he is innocent.

The case dates back to August 19, 2003, when the sheikh was in Geneva accompanying his father on an official visit.

At the luxury La Reserve hotel he bought a bottle of champagne for Orsi, who refused the gift.

The sheikh's lawyers said that he was offended as Orsi had thought that he was a homosexual.

A Geneva court had handed down a fine of 540,000 Swiss francs (383,000 euros, 487,000 dollars) against the sheikh for inflicting bodily harm but he was acquitted on appeal.

Subsequent bids by Orsi all the way up the Swiss supreme court were thrown out, while the European Court of Human Rights ruled in May that his case was inadmissible.

© 2010 AFP

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