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Saudi prince found guilty of murdering aide

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Saudi prince found guilty of murder
  • Prince shows no remorse, police say after the verdict
  • He admitted killing his aide, but says he didn't intend to
  • Bandar Abdulaziz died after a severe beating caused swelling of the brain
  • Witnesses speculated that the prince and aide had a gay relationship, but his lawyer denies it

London, England (CNN) -- A Saudi prince was found guilty Tuesday of murdering an aide at a London hotel in February, in a case prosecutors said had a sexual element.

Prince Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Saud was found guilty of both murder and grievous bodily harm in the killing of Bandar Abdulaziz.

Abdulaziz died after a severe beating left him with swelling and bruising of the brain and fractured ribs and neck. He also had bite marks on his face, ears and arm.

The prince had not denied killing the aide, but said he had not intended to do so. He is due to be sentenced Wednesday and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He did not take the stand in his own defense.

Because the prince did not deny killing Abdulaziz, the jury's job was to determine if he was guilty of murder or manslaughter.

To do that, jurors had to determine the prince's state of mind and his intent at the time he killed Abdulaziz.

The jury took just over an hour and a half Tuesday to reach its verdict.

The prince -- who is both a grandson and a great-nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, since his parents are cousins -- showed no reaction as the jury's unanimous verdict was read in court.

Police said after the verdict that the prince had shown no remorse when he was questioned about his servant's death, instead "concocting a story" about how he died.

"When that was found to be a pack of lies, he tried to claim diplomatic immunity," but did not qualify for it, John McFarlane of London's Metropolitan Police told journalists outside the court Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the prince's systematic mistreatment of the victim had a sexual element.

The bitings suffered by Abdulaziz were not a factor in his death, but had "an obvious sexual connotation," prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said in his opening statement two weeks ago.

The two men were in London earlier this year as Al Saud took in Morocco, the Maldives and other European cities on a long global holiday with Abdulaziz as his companion.

Al Saud's lawyer, John Kelsey-Fry, said in his closing argument Monday that Al Saud "must live with the consequences" of having killed Abdulaziz, but he never intended to harm him.

Kelsey-Fry reminded the jury that a pathologist had been unable to determine how Abdulaziz died but that only one of his injuries, by itself, could have killed him -- a compression of the neck, the barrister said, that could have been caused when Al Saud grabbed Abdulaziz briefly by the throat.

An "awful, reprehensible, culpable act," he said, "but an act of murder?"

Kelsey-Fry also challenged the prosecution's assertion that the defendant and the victim had a master-servant relationship, telling the jury that the two men had "enjoyed a genuine friendship."

He also disputed suggestions from the prosecutor and several witnesses that the prince and his aide had a gay relationship.

During their visit to London, the two men shared a hotel room, went shopping together and stayed out late in bars and nightclubs.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor Laidlaw presented his closing argument. He told the jury they might consider drawing an "adverse inference" from the prince's refusal to face questions.

The case "cries out for an explanation," he said, adding that the jury might care to reflect on how the prince might have answered questions about the nature of his relationship with Abdulaziz, why it was that he attacked him on more than one occasion, his account of what happened the night his aide died and why it was that he waited hours before informing anyone of his death.

When he did contact authorities, Al Saud said that Abdulaziz had been assaulted by robbers three weeks earlier.

He is a man, said Laidlaw, "incapable of telling the truth."

CNN's Andrew Carey contributed to this report.