Saudi prince 'not in gay relationship with victim'

Bandar Abdulaziz, who was found beaten and strangled to death in the Landmark Hotel, in central London Bandar Abdulaziz was found beaten and strangled in the Landmark Hotel

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A Saudi prince accused of murder was not in a gay relationship with the alleged victim, his lawyer has said.

Bandar Abdulaziz, 32, was found beaten and strangled in central London's Landmark Hotel, on 15 February.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, 34, admits manslaughter but denies murder and a separate count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Al Saud had carried out several assaults on the victim before he died, the Old Bailey has heard.

Attacked and robbed

The jury has been asked to decide whether he is guilty of manslaughter or murder.

Dobomir Dimitrov, a porter from the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, who went to their room during their stay, said: "I would describe them as a gay couple."

But the prince's barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC said in cross-examination: "It is not accepted that this was in fact a gay couple - but I readily accept that you had the impression they were a gay couple."

Mr Dimitrov, who is gay himself, said he believed they were not behaving like two heterosexual men in the way they were hanging their clothes in colour-coded order.

He said of Mr Abdulaziz: "It was impossible not to notice that he was homosexual."

Lift assault allegation

Mr Kelsey-Fry said: "You had an effeminate gay man sharing a room with another man and colour coding their clothing?"

"Yes," Mr Dimitrov replied.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud (L) with his servant Bandar Abdulaziz in an elevator in London"s Landmark hotel, captured on CCTV CCTV of Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud and his servant was shown at the Old Bailey

"That is why you were led to the impression of them being a gay couple?" asked Mr Kelsey-Fry.

"Yes," the witness answered.

Another hotel porter, George Konis, told the jury he had seen Mr Abdulaziz apparently injured and that he seemed to be treated "like a slave".

"There was something there definitely between them.

"They were both very camp," he said.

"I suppose it is an assumption that they were gay."

Meanwhile, George Rodrigues, a barman at Scalini's restaurant in Chelsea, where the two men dined with a third man on 24 January, said one of the men was "very quiet" and was wearing sunglasses which he found "really strange".

"He had swelling to his lips and he appeared to be having difficulty as he was eating his food, he said.

"He kept his head down and never really looked at me directly in the face at any time."

The dinner took place two days after the alleged assault on Mr Abdulaziz captured on CCTV.

The prince, 34, admits killing Mr Abdulaziz but denies murder and a separate charge of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to an alleged assault in a lift at the hotel weeks before.

The case continues.

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