Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Saudi authorities arrest 11 princes protesting bills


Saudi Arabian authorities made a fresh round of arrests of royal-family members as a group of princes staged a palace protest in Riyadh over the non-payment of their electricity and water bills.

Security services on Thursday arrested the 11 princes after they refused to leave the capital’s Qasr al-Hokm, Saudi Arabian Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in an e-mailed statement.

The princes, who objected to a decree that ordered the state to stop paying their utility bills, are to be held at al-Ha’er prison pending their trial, al-Mojeb said.

“No one is above the law in Saudi Arabia, everyone is equal and is treated the same as others,” al-Mojeb said. “Any person, regardless of their status or position, will be held accountable should they decide not to follow the rules and regulations of the state.”

The princes arrested at the palace were also seeking compensation for a death sentence that was issued against one of their cousins, who was convicted of killing another man and executed in 2016, al-Mojeb’s statement said.

Earlier on Saturday, the Jeddah-based newspaper Okaz reported that the princes had been arrested.

The al-Ha’er facility south of Riyadh is one of Saudi Arabia’s maximum-security prisons. Many of Saudi Arabia’s Muslim militants who have fought abroad are held there. In November, authorities swept up dozens of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most influential people, including princes and government ministers, and detained them at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The arrests were ordered by a newly established anti-corruption committee headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The prince’s anti-graft drive appeared designed to tap into a popular vein among young Saudi Arabians who are bearing the brunt of low oil prices and were complaining, privately and on social media, that the kingdom’s elite were above the rule of law.

King Salman on Saturday ordered extra pay for Saudi government workers and soldiers this year after the implementation of value-added taxation and a surge in fuel prices stirred grumbling among citizens, highlighting the kingdom’s struggle to overhaul its economy without risking a public backlash.

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