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Spanish court dismisses woman's rape allegation against Saudi prince

By Michael Martinez and Al Goodman
updated 4:32 AM EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal says he hasn't been to Ibiza, where the rape allegedly happened in 2008, in 10 years.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal says he hasn't been to Ibiza, where the rape allegedly happened in 2008, in 10 years.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A woman of dual Spanish-German citizenship accuses Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of rape
  • After a lengthy process, a Spanish court dismisses the case for lack of evidence
  • The ruling confirms the prince's long-standing account of innocence, his legal team says
  • But the prince endures "a grave injustice" from the "false and baseless" charge, the team says

(CNN) -- A Spanish court on Wednesday dismissed an allegation that one of the world's richest men, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, raped a young woman on a yacht on the island of Ibiza in 2008.

In its ruling, the Spanish court in Palma de Mallorca found there wasn't sufficient evidence to press charges.

The prince has long maintained that he was innocent, that he hasn't been in Ibiza in more than a decade and that others have tried to impersonate him.

The prince's legal team released a statement Wednesday saying the ruling vindicates the prince, but said the legal matter has nevertheless resulted in "a grave injustice" to him.

"These reports confirm what we have said all along, which is that the allegations against HRH Prince Alwaleed were not only false and outrageous but also impossible as His Royal Highness was not in Spain at the time but was in France with his wife, children, grandchildren and in the presence of dozens of witnesses, as the documentation shows," the legal team's statement said.

"This has been a grave injustice to His Royal Highness. For this, he has asked our Firm to study how to proceed in order to protect other innocent people from facing similar attacks and to make sure that those who have deliberately lied about HRH are held responsible for their actions," the statement said.

In September, a Spanish court reopened the investigation into the rape allegation.

The woman filed her complaint in Ibiza in August 2008, but a local judge shelved it in 2010, citing a lack of evidence that a crime had been committed, according to court documents.

The woman appealed to the next highest court, the Balearic Island Provisional Court, which ruled the lower court in Ibiza should reopen the investigation.

According to court documents obtained by CNN, the victim argued in her appeal that the real reason the lower court tossed out the case was that the alleged perpetrator was a powerful member of the Saudi royal family.

In September, the Saudi prince, a billionaire and the biggest foreign investor in companies such a News Corp., said in a statement that he was just learning of the accusation.

"These allegations are completely and utterly false," said the statement from his investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company. "The alleged encounter simply never happened."

According to September's statement, the prince doesn't vacation in Spanish waters.

But Max Turiel, one of the lawyers for the alleged victim, said last year there was evidence his team had wanted the court to examine further.

According to the court documents, the woman believed her drink had been drugged. She sent a text message to a friend stating as much. She awoke on a yacht to find she was being sexually assaulted by a man she identified as Alwaleed, according to court documents.

Turiel said "there were remains of semen" that should be examined against the prince's DNA, as well as "remains of a tranquilizer that produced the symptoms she had."

The evidence came from tests carried out 30 hours after the alleged rape, the attorney said, so the alcohol was gone from her body, but not the drug or the DNA.

In September, Turiel said the alleged victim's mother could answer questions from CNN, but only through e-mail. He provided responses to questions that he said were from the mother. CNN could not independently confirm the message was from the victim's mother.

"She wanted to reopen the case due to the huge injustice and a feeling of a helplessness; powerful people should not take undue advantage of it and have others subjected to them," the message said.

The message described the "man or men" who allegedly abused the young woman as powerful individuals who threatened her onboard the yacht.

Asked if her daughter was afraid to appeal the case, the mother said, "Part of the fear has a lot of dignity and that can't be bought nor scared off with threats."

The young woman, a dual Spanish and German citizen, was 23 in September, the e-mail said.

In December, a Spanish court heard new testimony from the woman. The prince and his lawyers were not present at the hearing. The woman, who has worked as a fashion model, entered the courthouse in Ibiza wearing a black hat and dark sunglasses to conceal her face from reporters outside, Turiel said. Her mother accompanied her.

The two-hour, closed-door hearing included the woman, another one of her lawyers, the prosecutor and the magistrate in charge of the investigation.

In a December statement, the prince's lawyer in Madrid said the prince was with his family in France in August 2008 on a visit that was well-documented by his passport, cell phone records and hotel receipts, as well as photographs, video and eyewitness accounts.

But in her testimony in December, the woman maintained her accusation against the prince, said Turiel, despite what he termed tough questioning by the prosecutor seeking details of the alleged rape.

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