Image: Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud
Metropolitan Police via AFP - Ge
This undated image released by the London Metropolitan Police shows Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud. A British court convicted the prince Tuesday of murdering his servant after subjecting him to a "sadistic" campaign of violence and sexual abuse. staff and news service reports
updated 10/19/2010 11:29:31 AM ET 2010-10-19T15:29:31

A London jury Tuesday convicted a Saudi prince of murdering one of his servants in a frenzied attack in a luxury hotel room.

The panel deliberated 95 minutes before returning its verdict against Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, who prosecutors said murdered Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz at the city's Landmark Hotel on Feb. 15.

A reporter on Britain's Sky News said al Saud displayed "no emotion whatsoever" as the court read the verdicts.

The court will sentence the 34-year-old prince, whose grandfather is a brother of the current Saudi king, on Wednesday.  He faces a possible term of life in prison.

During the course of the three-week-long trial, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said the prince had abused his aide in the past, showing jurors video shot in the Landmark's elevator which appears to show the shaven-headed prince, dressed in white, throwing his 32-year-old servant around and battering him.

Abdulaziz could be seen occasionally trying to protect his head, but otherwise meekly absorbing the punches.

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Additionally, photographs of Abdulaziz stored on a mobile phone "plainly proved" that there was a "sexual element" to the abuse, Laidlaw said.

Jurors rejected a claim by al Saud's defense lawyer that the prince was guilty only of manslaughter, convicting him of both murder and a second count of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to the attack in the elevator.

History of abuse
On Feb. 15, hotel staff called paramedics to the room the two men shared after finding Abdulaziz bleeding from the ear and apparently dead, police said. Responders found the aide in the bed, and pronounced him dead before calling authorities.

Police said evidence in the hotel suite indicated someone tried to cover up the attack by cleaning up blood and moving the victim's body.

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Abdulaziz's autopsy determined the cause of death to be compression to the neck and head injury, and noted a litany of injuries: "two broken ribs, damage to internal organs, bleeding on the brain, a severe ear injury, bite marks to the cheeks, bruising up and down legs and arms, a bite mark to his right arm and back, bruising to his neck and a broken larynx consistent with compression to the neck," London Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"There was bruising to his face, a split lip and teeth chipped. The pathologist's evidence was that these were typical injuries seen in abuse cases caused by heavy punching and kicking over a period of time."

Laidlaw earlier this month told the court that the bite marks pointed to sexual assault.

Video: Oct. 6 report on trial of Saudi prince

'A deeply abusive relationship'
"Beneath the surface this was a deeply abusive relationship which the defendant exploited, as the assaults in the lift [elevator] so graphically demonstrate, for sadistic reasons, for his own personal gratification," Laidlaw told the jury.

Image: Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz
Metropolitan Police via AFP - Ge
This undated photo released by the London Metropolitan Police shows Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz. A London jury on Tuesday convicted his employer, Saudi prince Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud, of killing him in a luxury London hotel on February 15.

"The abuse extended beyond physical abuse. There was plainly an emotional element and psychological element to it."

The prosecutor said Abdulaziz surrendered meekly to the fatal assault, and added that he appeared not to have fought back as al Saud did not display any marks at all.

"Bandar appears to have let the defendant kill him," Laidlaw said.

Al Saud originally told police that he and Abdulaziz had been drinking into the early hours of the morning, and that when he awoke at 3:30 p.m. he could not rouse his aide. Police said al Saud suggested that Abdulaziz died from injuries sustained in a robbery outside the hotel several weeks earlier, but a pathologist who reported to the scene said the injuries were from the past 24 hours.

"The defendant used his position of power over the victim to gratuitously inflict violence upon him over a long period of time. After the victim's body was discovered he made every effort to evade justice," lead investigator John McFarlane said in the police statement. The detective also noted that al Saud attempted to claim diplomatic immunity, but the U.K. does not entitle him that privilege.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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