Spanish court drops rape probe against Saudi prince

A Spanish court has dropped a probe into allegations a Saudi billionaire prince raped a model on a yacht in Ibiza three years ago, according to a ruling seen on Wednesday.

The case concerns Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah and one of world's richest men, who is being asked to respond to a complaint of sexual assault against him in August 2008 by a model who was 20 at the time.

The 57-year-old has denied the allegations. He has said he was nowhere near Ibiza at the time.

A provincial court on Palma de Majorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands, on Monday ordered a stay of proceedings in the case due to the ‘contradictions and vagueness’ of the alleged victim's testimony, the court ruling said.

"In light of recent statements by the complainant, we cannot firmly establish with evidence what happened overnight on August 11-12, 2008, on the yacht," it added.

A judge in Ibiza in May 2010 ordered the case to be closed for lack of evidence. But courts later reopened the case and asked the Saudi authorities to take a statement from the accused.

Spanish law firm Oliva Ayala, which represents the prince said in a statement that he was mulling legal action against the woman for ‘making false accusations’ against him.

"This has been a grave injustice to His Royal Highness. For this, he has asked our firm to study how to proceed in order to protect other innocent people from facing similar attacks..." it said.

The latest ruling "confirms what we have said all along, which is that the allegations against Prince Alwaleed were not only false and outrageous but also impossible as he was not in Spain at the time but was in France with his wife, children, grandchildren and in the presence of dozens of witnesses," it added.

The woman, who has not been named by the court, believes her drink was spiked with a drug in a nightclub on Ibiza after she met the prince.

"I didn't drink much, but I think there was something in my glass," she said in a text message at 5:12 am August 13, after waking up in a bedroom of a luxury yacht, the ‘Turama’, of the Saudi royal family, according to testimony from a witness, Benedicto Moreno Venecia.

When she awoke she said "she felt the weight of a man on top of her who was kissing her and a strong pain in the genital region," according to a court ruling that reopened the case in May 2010.

The prince has holdings in Citibank, Twitter and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Forbes magazine lists him as the 29th richest person in the world with a net worth of $18 billion (13.5 billion euros).

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