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Thai officials worried about crown prince: US cable

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

LONDON, Dec 16, 2010 (AFP) – Top palace officials in Thailand expressed concerns about the prospect of the crown prince becoming king, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed.


Three influential Thai figures, including two senior advisers to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, “had quite negative comments about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn,” said the January 2010 memo from the US embassy in Bangkok.


Two of them, while asserting that the crown prince would become king, “implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made,” according to the cable, published by British daily The Guardian, which obtained the confidential document from the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.


It cited concerns about his private life and suspected links to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains hugely popular with by many rural poor but is seen by the establishment as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.


King Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch, widely revered as a demi-god by many Thais, has been hospitalised since September 2009.


The 83-year-old has no official political role but is seen as a unifying figure in a country that has been frequently riven by political violence, particularly since the 2006 military coup which ousted Thaksin from office.


Any discussion of the royal family is an extremely sensitive topic in Thailand, where the palace has been silent over the organisation of the king’s succession.


General Prem Tinsulanonda, a former premier who is head of the privy council of advisers to the king, was “clearly no fan” of the crown prince, Bhumibol’s only son, the US cable said.


“When Ambassador (Eric John) asked where the Crown Prince was currently, in Thailand or Europe, Prem replied dismissively: ‘You know his social life, how he is’,” it added.


The memo said this was “a presumed reference to Vajiralongkorn’s preference to spend time based out of Munich with his main mistress, rather than in Thailand with his wife and son.”


The memo also quoted Siddhi Savetsila, a retired military office and privy council member, who said that succession “would be a difficult transition time for Thailand.”


He “expressed preference” for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is widely respected by Thais for her charitable work, it said.


Another influential figure, former premier Anand Panyarachun, “suggested only the King would be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood of that happening,” the cable added.

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Source: SGGP

Prince William seals engagement with Diana’s ring

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

Saudi prince convicted of murdering servant in London

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 am

Saudi prince Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud (AFP)

LONDON (AFP) – A Saudi prince was found guilty by a London court of murdering his servant in a London hotel after subjecting him to a “sadistic” campaign of violence and sexual abuse.


Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud, 34, a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah through his mother, was accused of beating and strangling Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz to death on February 15.


The prince faces a possible life sentence when he is sentenced on Wednesday. The jury at London’s Old Bailey, also known as the Central Criminal Court, deliberated for only 95 minutes before convicting him.


“The defendant used his position of power over the victim to gratuitously inflict violence upon him over a long period of time,” John McFarlane, the Scotland Yard detective who led the investigation, said after the verdict.


“After the victim’s body was discovered he made every effort to evade justice, including misleading police by alleging that the victim had been robbed and then trying to claim diplomatic immunity, which he was not entitled to in the UK.”


Saud was fuelled by champagne and cocktails when he murdered the 32-year-old in a ferocious attack after the pair had returned from a Valentine’s Day night out, the two-week trial heard.


The victim, also a Saudi, was left with severe injuries including bite marks on both cheeks which prosecutors said showed a clear “sexual element” to the killing.


Saud — whose lawyers argued that he could face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia over the revelations of homosexuality aired at the trial — showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.


The prince had denied murder and a second charge of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an earlier alleged assault in a hotel lift that was captured on CCTV footage. He had admitted manslaughter.


The trial heard that the two men had stayed together at London’s Landmark Hotel for nearly a month as part of an “extended holiday” that had also taken them to Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Morocco.


Saud had claimed the pair were friends and that he was heterosexual, but the court heard the prince had ordered gay escorts in London and had frequently looked at websites for gay massage parlours and escort agencies.


Prosecutors said he repeatedly assaulted Abdulaziz and that two brutal attacks were captured on CCTV by the hotel lift. The victim was so worn down by the violence that he let Saud kill him without a fight, they said.


Witnesses had told the court that Bandar — an orphan who was adopted into the family of a low-ranking civil servant in Jeddah — was treated “like a slave”.


After the killing, the prince spent hours on the phone to an unidentified contact in Saudi Arabia before finally calling his chauffeur to the room, at which point the body was discovered on a bloodstained hotel bed.


Police said he had dragged the body from the bathroom to the hallway and then the bedroom “in an attempt to cover his tracks”.


A post-mortem found that Abdulaziz had suffered chipped teeth, heavy blows to the head, injuries to the brain and ears and severe neck injuries consistent with strangulation by hand, the trial heard.


The prince’s father, a nephew of King Abdullah, was in court for the verdict.

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Source: SGGP

Maliki ‘hijacking’ Iraq elections: top Saudi prince

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal on Saturday accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of trying to “hijack” the results of the general election held in Iraq in March.


“Adding to the brutal mayhem taking place there, we are watching a deliberate effort on the part of the incumbent prime minister, Mr al-Maliki, to hijack the results of the election and deny the Iraqi people their legitimately elected government,” he said.


“The consequences of that are more bloodshed and potential civil war,” Prince Turki, also a former Saudi ambassador to the United States and Britain, told an audience of diplomats, journalists and businessmen in a speech.


Source: AFP
 

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Source: SGGP

Prince William eyes Sydney real estate

In World on January 21, 2010 at 12:58 am

SYDNEY, Jan 20, 2010 (AFP) – Britain’s visiting Prince William said Wednesday he was so thrilled by his warm welcome to Sydney that he’d like to buy a house in the Australian harbourside city.








Britain’s Prince William (R) poses for photos with New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally before the Sydney opera house on January 20, 2010 (AFP photo)

William, 27, told guests at a traditional Australian waterfront barbecue in his honour that he had enjoyed “the most warm welcome ever, not just with the weather but with all Sydney people.”


“It has been a terrific couple of days in Sydney, and because of that I’ve joked that I will actually try and buy a house in Sydney,” the prince said.


“So if any of you have got any properties for sale then please let me know.”


The prince was mobbed by hundreds of well-wishers when he arrived at the gathering, which offered him stunning views of the city’s famed Opera House and Harbour Bridge on the second day of a three-day whistlestop tour of Australia.


Dressed casually in an open-collared shirt and loafers, the prince enthused about his surroundings, gesturing across glittering waters to the Opera House, which sat against a cloudless blue sky.


“What a view it is too, I’ve always wanted to see the Opera House,” said William, in his first public remarks since landing in Australia on Tuesday.


“The last time I was here and I saw it, it was through very small eyes and I don’t quite remember very much about it.”


The open-air barbecue topped off a two-day stay in Sydney for the young prince, who last visited Australia in the arms of his late mother, Princess Diana, when he was just nine months old in 1983.


William requested the unofficial trip as a way to get to know the country and its people, taking in a poor inner-city Aboriginal neighbourhood and rehab centre for drug addicted youth as part of his less-than-conventional itinerary.


His laid-back manner and ready humour won the praise of press and punters alike, with many likening him to his much-beloved late mother.


Some in the crowds which gathered across the city to see the prince greeted him with the affectionate nickname “Willie Wombat,” which was bestowed upon him during his last visit as an infant.


The prince took a self-deprecating dig at his musical tastes after a rap jam performance by hip-hop artists at a youth dug rehab centre, saying his choice of music often made him the butt of jokes.


“I can’t do any beatboxing, I’m not so good at that,” he told Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, referring to the vocal percussion stylings of the hip-hop trio before them.


“I normally get the piss taken out of me for my choice of music,” he joked.


“Mine’s very varied — I like rock, Linkin Park… Kanye West.”


His marksmanship impressed soldiers at a major army base on the city’s outskirts, winning approval with his willingness to get down on his belly for a live firing exercise with elite snipers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.


“I understand he has been in the Air Force,” said Private Jace Barnett of William, who graduated as a fully-fledged Royal Air Force helicopter pilot just before his trip to Australia.


“It would be a bit embarrassing if we let a Rafie beat us,” Barnett joked to state radio, admitting there had been some good-natured rivalry with the prince on the rifle range.


Second in line to the British throne, William was welcomed to Australia Tuesday with a traditional Aboriginal “smoking ceremony” in the poor inner-city neighbourhood of Redfern, which was presided over by an elder daubed in body paint and bearing smouldering gum leaves.


He met with Aboriginal elders to discuss, among other things, the repatriation of indigenous artefacts and remains, including the head of indigenous warrior Pemulwuy.


William reportedly slipped out for a seafood platter and a few beers at exclusive Sydney nightspot Bungalow 8 on Tuesday night.


He will visit bushfire-ravaged areas near Melbourne on Thursday before returning home the following day. His Australia tour follows an official visit to New Zealand, where he represented his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II for the first time.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share