A Spanish judge has reopened an abandoned sexual assault case against a Saudi prince who is one of the world’s richest men, reviving accusations that he raped a 20-year-old model on a luxury yacht in the Spanish Mediterranean in August 2008.
The prince, Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is the largest individual stakeholder in Citigroup and, among his other major holdings, is the second largest investor in the News Corporation. Forbes valued his fortune this year at $19.4 billion, making him the 26th richest man in the world and the single richest in the Arab world.
The accuser did not go public, and the original complaint appears to have remained largely unknown. The case was quietly closed in July 2010 for what a judge on the Mediterranean resort island of Ibiza called a lack of evidence. But on appeal, a Spanish provincial court for the Balearic Islands, which has jurisdiction over Ibiza, ordered the judge to resume investigating and to summon the prince to appear.
The provincial court said the judge, Carmen Martín Montero, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Heba Fatani, a spokeswoman for Prince Alwaleed’s investment arm, the Kingdom Holding Company, called the accusations “completely and utterly false.”
“The alleged encounter simply never happened,” Ms. Fatani said in a statement.
Ms. Fatani also said the prince was never in Ibiza in 2008 and provided pages of his calendar indicating that he spent time that summer in Paris; Cannes, France; and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. He did not charter a yacht in Ibiza, nor did he take his own there, she said. Other people who spent time with the prince that summer can confirm his whereabouts, she said.
Prince Alwaleed first learned of the 2008 case on Tuesday, Ms. Fatani said, and his lawyers had not been informed about it.
Son of a gadfly senior prince, Talal ibn Abd al-Aziz, Prince Alwaleed has long been outspoken about expanding opportunities for women in the kingdom. The women who work in his Saudi offices are not segregated, nor do they have to wear the enveloping blackabayas — his royal stature keeps them out of reach of the religious police who enforce such measures.
The model, whose lawyer has identified her by only her middle name, Soraya, filed a police complaint in August 2008, saying the prince had raped her on the yacht after she was drugged. She said she had been invited to the yacht at an Ibiza nightclub.
The Balearic archipelago is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Mediterranean and welcomes a flotilla of luxury yachts during the summer months.
According to a summary of a provincial court’s order to reopen the case, medical tests conducted by departments of Spain’s National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Science turned up traces of semen and a sleep-inducing chemical, nordazepam, in her urine.
In the 2010 decision to close the case, the Ibiza judge said the forensic and medical tests had shown no signs of physical violence that could confirm a rape. The judge also questioned whether the sleep-inducing chemical found in the model’s body could have acted swiftly enough to induce a semiconscious state between the time she left the nightclub and reached the yacht.
Her lawyer, Javier Beloqui, said the tests supported her claim that her drink had been spiked and that she was sexually assaulted. He called on Prince Alwaleed to provide at least a DNA test in order to compare it with the traces of semen found.
Mr. Beloqui welcomed the decision to reopen the case. “Nobody was even questioned at the time,” he said, “which is unbelievable when you consider the seriousness of the crime and the evidence that has been gathered.”