THE FAMILY of a Saudi prince have failed to appear at the Barcelona trial of a Spanish husband and wife who sold off parts of the royal’s Catalonian estate after his death in 1993.
Seeking to reclaim their inheritance, relatives of Prince Saad Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abderraman Al Saud were required to testify against former hotel manager Agustin Gonzalez and his wife Maria, who are accused of obtaining more than €7million from selling off the prince´s properties and helping themselves to €500,000 left in the Saudi royal´s Spanish bank accounts.
The Spanish courts contacted the Saudi Ministry of Justice to ascertain whether the heirs might appear via a video link from the Saudi´s Spanish embassy but were told that the royals were difficult to get in touch with and that contact details for the family could not be given out due to “security reasons”.
During initial investigations into the scam in 2015, the heirs gave limited testimony via a written form sent to them by the trial court. This evidence has since been called into question by the Mr Gonzalez’ lawyers, who claim it is impossible to verify that it was the heirs that actually responded.
The status of the heirs has also been called into question by the defence team, as the now-deceased Prince was known to have five wives, some of whose descendants have not been confirmed as legitimate successors.
Mr Gonzalez, now 91, is said to be suffering from a mental disorder, though his wife Maria Antonia R.T, 65, is thought to be in better health.
They first met Prince Saad Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abderraman Al Saud in 1976, when the Prince came to Barcelona to have eye surgery. A close friendship developed between the Prince and Mr Gonzalez culminating in the royal giving him full power of attorney to sell the properties in 1989.
However, prosecutors claim that despite the power of attorney expiring in 1993 on the death of the prince to cancer, the couple proceeded to sell off two castles in Catalonia – Rocafort and Rocabruna, as well as two mansions on Barcelona’s prestigious Avenida Pearson, before reinvesting the proceeds into new properties and registering them in their name.
The trial has now been postponed until November 2016, while the Spanish authorities attempt to make further contact with the heirs ‘unapparent’.