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Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 17:31 UK

UAE sheikh to face assault trial

Silvano Orsi
Mr Orsi says he has been too ill to go to work since the alleged assault

A Swiss court is preparing to hear a case against a brother of the UAE president who is accused of assaulting an American citizen in a Geneva hotel.

Silvano Orsi alleges Sheikh Falah al-Nahyan made homosexual advances to him in the bar of the hotel and severely beat him when rejected.

The allegations date back to 2003. Mr Orsi said it has been a "five-year ordeal" to get the case to court.

The sheikh denies assault and has said he is sure "justice would be done".

Mr Orsi, 39, says he was drinking at Geneva's La Reserve hotel with a Saudi friend when the sheikh ordered a bottle of champagne to be sent over to their table.

A few minutes later, Mr Orsi claims the sheikh came over and began molesting him, and when the advances were rejected the sheikh attacked him and whipped him with his belt.

Mr Orsi says he sustained a herniated disc, nerve damage and post-traumatic stress disorder from the assault.

In a pre-trial hearing in 2007, Mr Nahyan, 37, said there had been a short scuffle in the hotel bar after he was accused of being gay.

The three-judge tribunal will begin hearing the case on Thursday and it can impose a sentence of up to two years in prison if the defendant is found guilty.

Mr Nahyan is the son of the late Sheikh Zayed, who died in 2004 and was succeed by Mr Nahyan's older brother, Sheikh Khalifa.

Mr Orsi has said he wants to bring a civil case against Mr Nahyan in addition to the criminal case, because he says he was too ill to work following the alleged assault.





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