Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Police question 'Saudi royal' over London Landmark hotel murder

Detectives investigating the death of a man in a suite at an luxury London hotel have been granted more time to question a member of the Saudi Royal family about the killing.

The body of the 32-year-old man, believed to be an aide to the suspect, was discovered late on Monday afternoon at the five star Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. He had been strangled and had suffered head injuries.

His 33-year-old boss, who claimed to be a Saudi prince, was arrested a few hours later.

Detectives have established that the suspect, who travelled to Britain as a tourist, does have some links to the House of Saud, but they do not believe that he is a prominent member of the family.

It is understood that he cannot claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, only senior royals and diplomats may qualify and a suspect’s government can waive immunity.

A source involved in the inquiry said: “There is some sort of link to the Saudi royal family but it is not believed he is a senior family member.”

The man was being questioned today by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command at a Central London police station.

Officers were this morning granted another 36 hours to question the suspect by a magistrate at Westminster Magistrates Court. They have until 10pm on Thursday. Then they can apply for another 24 hours to question the suspect, charge him, release him on police bail or take no further action.

A post mortem carried out yesterday found that the aide, who has not yet been named, died from “manual compression of the neck and head injuries”.

He is believed to have been found by staff at the hotel in a suite on the third floor of the hotel which is a favourite with celebrities.

Officers and paramedics from the London Ambulance Service attended and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy would only say: “We have no information on this issue.”

The Saudi royal family has over 7,000 members, with the most power and influence being wielded by the 200 of them closest to King Abdullah.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “The death is being treated as murder and is being investigated by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command.

“Officers believe they know the identity of the deceased, who is from Saudi Arabia, but await formal identification before releasing his name. Inquiries to trace his next of kin are under way.

“At 21:07hrs on Monday 15th February, a 33 year old man was arrested in Westminster in connection with the death and was taken to a central London police station where he remains in custody.

“On Wednesday 17th February Westminster Magistrates Court granted a warrant of further detention for the man in custody.

“Anyone with information that may assist officers investigating the death is asked to contact the Incident Room on 020 8721 4205 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A spokeswoman for the hotel said: “We are co-operating fully with the police and are therefore unable to comment further.”

Rooms at the grade two listed hotel, built in 1899, cost from up to £520 a night and the largest suite is offered at £2,400-a-night.

Police question 'Saudi royal' over London Landmark hotel murder - Times Online

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