Saudi prince convicted of murdering servant at London hotel

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A gay Saudi prince was found guilty by a British court Tuesday of murdering his servant after subjecting him to a "sadistic" campaign of violence and sexual abuse.

Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud, 34, a grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah through his mother, was accused of killing Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz in a luxury London hotel on February 15.

He was convicted at London's Old Bailey, also known as the Central Criminal Court, after the jury deliberated for only an hour and a half.

He faces a life sentence and will be sentenced on Wednesday.

The trial heard the prince was fuelled by champagne and cocktails when he beat and strangled the 32-year-old to death after the pair had returned from a Valentine's Day night out.

The victim was left with severe injuries including bite marks on both cheeks which prosecutors said showed a clear "sexual element" to the killing.

Saud, whose lawyers argued that he could face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia over the revelations of homosexuality aired at the trial, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

The prince had denied murder and a second charge of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an earlier alleged assault in a hotel lift that was captured on CCTV footage.

The two-week trial heard that the two men had stayed together at London's Landmark Hotel for nearly a month as part of an "extended holiday" that had also taken them to Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Morocco.

Saud had claimed the pair were friends and that he was heterosexual, but the court heard the prince had ordered gay escorts in London and had frequently looked at websites for gay massage parlours and escort agencies.

A post-mortem found that Abdulaziz had suffered heavy blows to the head, injuries to the brain and ears and severe neck injuries consistent with strangulation by hand, the trial heard.

© 2010 AFP

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