Drug charge for Saudi prince
Staff and agencies
Friday July 19, 2002
A Saudi prince has been accused of smuggling 1,980kg of cocaine from Venezuela to Paris on his personal plane under diplomatic immunity, US drug investigators said yesterday.
Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawwaz Al-Shaalan - who prosecutors say is not in line to succeed to the Saudi throne - was charged in his absence with three others on two drug conspiracy counts. Officials said they did not know the prince's whereabouts.
It is unclear whether he could be prosecuted because of his immunity. Drug enforcement administration (DEA) agents seized a Goya painting, three paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero and a sculpture by Japanese Tsuguharu Foujita as part of the investigation.
They estimate the Goya and Foujita are worth at least $1m each. The alleged broker of the deal, Doris Mangeri Salazar, 44, was found hiding in a cupboard at her home, according to a DEA report. According to the DEA Ms Mangeri allegedly introduced the prince to the smugglers in 1998, and he agreed to fly the cocaine from Venezuela to Paris in May 1999.
Some of the cocaine was distributed, about 796kg was seized in a Paris suburb and 188kg was seized by Spanish authorities, the DEA said. Another co-defendant, Jose Maria Clemente, allegedly arranged to repay a debt to one of the Colombian informants by giving him a Goya painting and Foujita bust, officials said.
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SNIPET FROM THE ARTICLE
The Western community is living in fear. It has become the target of a series of bomb attacks, carried out by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists who want to drive all non-Muslims out of the Arabian peninsula. But the terrified Westerners have received little help from the Saudi authorities. The secret police instead blame the Westerners for the attacks, locking up the innocent and forcing them to confess. Three have died. Seven are in jail. Others have been arrested, interrogated, tortured and released.