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Saudi prince gets life in prison for murdering servant

From Talia Kayali, CNN
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Saudi prince found guilty of murder
  • NEW: Saudi prince will have to serve at least 20 years, official says
  • Prince Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Saud was found guilty Tuesday by British court
  • The jury said he committed murder and inflicted grievous bodily harm
  • The prince had not denied killing his servant, Bandar Abdulaziz

London, England (CNN) -- A British court sentenced a Saudi prince Wednesday to the maximum penalty of life in prison for murdering his servant.

Prince Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Saud will have to serve a minimum of 20 years, a court official said. For now, it will be in a British jail, since Britain and Saudi Arabia do not have a prisoner transfer agreement.

The prince was found guilty Tuesday of both murder and grievous bodily harm in the February killing of Bandar Abdulaziz in a case prosecutors said had a sexual element.

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 Abdulaziz, but said he had not intended to do so. 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. They took just over an hour and a half to reach a verdict.

Police said after Tuesday's 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 bites 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.

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.

CNN's Richard Greene contributed to this report.