World & Nation

French judge orders arrest of Saudi princess after she allegedly ordered beating of workman

French police want to question the sister of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, shown in London this month.
(Dan Kitwood / AFP/Getty Images)

A French judge has issued an arrest warrant for a Saudi princess accused of ordering her bodyguard to beat up a workman who had taken photographs of her Paris home.

Hassa bint Salman, the sister of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne, flew back to Saudi Arabia after the alleged attack in September 2016, claiming diplomatic immunity. She allegedly called the workman “this dog” and ordered him to kiss her feet.

French media reported Thursday that police now want to question Hassa, 43, about the assault of the painter and decorator, who alleges that she flew into a rage after he took photographs in her apartment on the chic Avenue Foch, near the Arc de Triomphe.

The alleged victim says he took the photographs on his cellphone to ensure he could return everything in the apartment to its correct place after he had finished the work.


The princess accused him of taking pictures to sell to the media. She is accused of ordering her bodyguard to hit the 53-year-old painter over the head before tying him up and keeping him prisoner for several hours.

According to French media reports, the unidentified workman told detectives that he was punched in the face and that his hands were tied before he was forced to his knees to kiss the royal’s feet. He said the princess had told her bodyguard, “You must kill him, this dog. He doesn’t deserve to live.”

He was allowed to leave later, but without his tools.

The princess was reportedly taken into custody immediately after the incident but was released after two hours after the Saudi Embassy in the French capital told detectives she had diplomatic immunity from prosecution.


At the time, the incident made headlines in France and the United Kingdom. The Telegraph newspaper in Britain described the incident as “terrifying” for the workman.

The French newsmagazine Le Point pointedly reported that French security guards were not permitted to carry guns but that “foreign heavies” had special authorization.

The princess’ guard appeared before a French magistrate in October 2016, where he was formally put under investigation — the equivalent of being charged — on suspicion of armed violence, theft, issuing death threats and holding a person against his or her will. He told the court that he had used the minimum force necessary to immobilize the workman after hearing the princess shout. The guard was never named, and it is unclear whether his case ever came to court.

Agence France-Presse said the arrest warrant, issued in late December, was in the French spelling of the royal’s name, Hussat Ben Salmane. The information emerged Thursday in a news brief in Le Point and was immediately picked up by French and international media.

News of the arrest warrant comes as her brother, heir to King Salman, has been assuming a larger international profile. On March 7, the prince arrived for a three-day visit in the United Kingdom, where he met with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. He is scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House this month.

Willsher is a special correspondent.

Get our Today's Headlines newsletter