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French court hears assault case against MBS's sister

Hassa bint Salman is accused of ordering bodyguard to beat a plumber in her Paris apartment
A hearing was held in the case against Hassa bint Salman on 9 July in Paris (AFP/File photo)

A hearing has been held in France in the case against the sister of Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of ordering an assault on a worker in Paris three years ago.

Hassa bint Salman - MBS's sister and the daughter of Saudi King Salman - is accused of ordering her bodyguard to beat up a plumber who was doing work inside her Paris apartment in 2016.

Bint Salman did not attend the French court hearing on Tuesday, AFP reported.

She has been charged with complicity in a violent act involving the use or threat of a weapon, complicity in holding someone against his will and theft of a cell phone.

The princess has denied the allegations against her.

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According to the plumber's account of the incident, which was previously reported by several French media outlets, he was called to bint Salman's apartment in the 16th arrondissement [district] of Paris in September 2016.

Ashraf Eid said he took a photograph of the room in which he was going to be working, and that's when he said he was accused of taking pictures to sell to the media.

The Saudi princess ordered her bodyguard to hit him, the worker alleged.

He said he was beaten and humiliated, AFP previously reported, adding that bint Salman's bodyguard ordered him to get on his knees and kiss the princess's feet.

He was held in the apartment for several hours before being allowed to leave, Eid said.

"We have to kill him, this dog. He doesn't deserve to live," bint Salman said, according to the worker's account of the incident, as reported by French newspaper Le Point.

Bodyguard testifies

Bint Salman's bodyguard, Rani Saidi, was the only person involved in the incident who was present in court on Tuesday.

He has been charged with theft, committing a violent act involving the use or threat of a weapon, and holding someone against his will, AFP previously reported.

"When I heard the princess cry for help, I came and saw them gripping the phone," he told the court, referring to Bint Salman and Eid.

"I grabbed him and overpowered him: I did not know his intentions," he said, as reported by AFP.

'I grabbed him and overpowered him: I did not know his intentions'

- Bint Salman's bodyguard, Rani Saidi

"In 12 years of work, we had stories like that. Arabs want photos and the princess is someone very important for them."

Saidi's lawyer told reporters outside the court that his client contested the claim "there was any act of violence and any act of kidnapping".

"It is the word of one against the word of the other," the lawyer said, as reported by AFP.

Eid did not attend the court hearing on Tuesday. The plumber's lawyer, Georges Karouni, told the news agency he would prefer to comment at the end of the hearing.

Bint Salman's lawyer, Emmanuel Moyne, made no comment.

The bodyguard has lodged a separate case for defamation against Eid.

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