Hard time: Saudi princes jailed after staging protest over state payments of their utility bills

by WorldTribune Staff, January 7, 2018

Saudi authorities on Jan. 4 arrested 11 royal family members who protested a decree which ordered the state to stop paying their electric and water bills.

The princes were arrested after refusing to leave the royal palace in Riyadh.

“No one is above the law in Saudi Arabia, everyone is equal and is treated the same as others,” Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud 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.”

A battalion of the Saudi Royal Guard arrested 11 princes after they refused to leave Qasr Al-Hokm (ruling palace) in Riyadh, where they had waged a protest against the new decree.

After being informed that their demands to be exempted from paying the bills were rejected, the princes refused to leave the palace and the Royal Guard was ordered to intervene and detain them.

The arrests were ordered by the newly established anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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

Saudi King Salman on Jan. 6 ordered extra pay for government workers and soldiers this year. The handouts will cost the state more than 50 billion riyals ($13.3 billion), Saud Al-Qahtani, an adviser to the royal court, said on his Twitter account.

The nation also for the first time has implemented a value-added tax as it struggles to overhaul an economy hit hard by low oil prices.

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