Saudi royal arrested over videos purportedly showing abuse

An image from a video posted online on July 19, 2017, allegedly showing low-ranking Saudi royal Prince Saudi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz physically abusing multiple people, shows a man with a head wound being forced out of a building at gunpoint. YouTube

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Saudi prince has been arrested after a video emerged online purporting to show him abusing someone and pointing a rifle at another.

King Salman ordered the arrest and interrogation of the prince on Wednesday, a day after short video clips were published on YouTube and shared on Twitter showing what appears to be a rifle pointed toward a man who is bleeding from the head and pleading.

One clip, viewed more than 760,000 times, also shows 18 bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky displayed on a table and a wad of cash. The sale and consumption of alcohol in Saudi Arabia is forbidden.

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Another video clip shows a man sitting in a car, bleeding and being cursed at for parking in front of a house. Another clip shows what appears to be the prince punching and slapping a man who is sitting on a chair.

The clips went viral in Saudi Arabia under an Arabic Twitter hashtag that said "prince transgresses on citizens."

Saudi Arabia’s state TV reported Wednesday that the king ordered a full investigation into the incidents and the arrest of Prince Saudi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, as well as any associates that appeared in the clips. He ordered that no individual involved in the case be released until a court has issued a ruling in line with the country’s Islamic Shariah laws.

An image from a video posted online on July 19, 2017, allegedly shows low-ranking Saudi royal, Prince Saudi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz beating a man in a chair.

In the order, King Salman urged people to remain vigilant in monitoring any exploitation of status or abuse of power.

After he issued the order, a video seen nearly a quarter-million times showed the young, low-level prince, dressed in a black t-shirt and grey sweatpants, handcuffed and with his feet chained being escorted into a building by security officers.

While many Saudis wrote in support of the king’s decision on Twitter, outspoken rights activist Moudi Aljohani said the order actually points to how lax the authorities are when it comes to royals.

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The arrest comes a day after state media reported that a woman who was filmed walking around a historic Saudi fort in a miniskirt and crop top sparked outrage among conservatives for defying the kingdom’s dress code for women, which requires females to cover in public in long, loose robes. The outcry prompted police to detain and question her for several hours before she was released without charge.

While Saudi royals are given privileged status in the kingdom, in addition to undisclosed monthly allowances from the state, they are not immune to prosecution. In an extremely rare event, the kingdom executed a prince last October who had fatally shot another man. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world.

Since ascending to throne in 2015, King Salman has branded himself a "decisive" leader. He has fired ministers caught on video being rude or insulting citizens. He also fired a senior royal court official who was filmed slapping a photographer.

Before becoming king, Salman served as the governor of the capital, Riyadh, and as defense minister. A leaked 2007 U.S. Embassy memo said he "is often the referee in family disputes." He also reportedly oversaw a prison for wayward royals in Riyadh.

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