prosecutor argued Thursday that a brother of the United
Arab Emirates' ruler should receive the maximum penalty on a
charge of assaulting an American man with his belt in
a luxury hotel bar.
Silvano Orsi, a
resident of Rochester, N.Y., says Sheik Falah bin Zayed
bin Sultan Al Nahyan hit him repeatedly with a belt with a
steel buckle after Orsi declined a bottle of champagne
from the sheik.
The sheik and his
lawyer deny the charges. Defense lawyer Marco Crisante
told the court that Orsi's legal complaint was full of lies
meant to pressure the sheik for money.
prosecutor, Daniel Zappelli, said that the defendant
should be given the maximum penalty of more than $960,000
for the incident in the bar of Geneva's La Reserve
Zappelli said the
case "is in no way different from a case of a common
Orsi said that
after he refused the champagne the sheik, whom he had
never met, came up behind him, jostled his glasses, sat in
his lap and tried to kiss and fondle him. When Orsi
protested, the assault began, he said.
The sheik says
the men got into a heated argument after he overheard
someone call him gay and acknowledged that he pulled his
belt from his trousers, but insists he never struck
security officers intervened and prevented the sheik from
whipping Orsi, who angered the sheik by calling him gay
during the August 2003 incident.
"For a Muslim
this is an insult," he said, adding that his client
was not homosexual. "Mr. Orsi has used all means in his
power for the sole purpose of extracting a maximum
amount of money from the sheik," Crisante said. "This
case could be titled 'How to make an ocean from a drop
The sheik was
absent from the one-day trial Thursday, as is permitted
under Swiss law.
accused the sheik of attacking and injuring Orsi, who also
holds Italian citizenship, by hitting him in the face,
shoulder and body with the belt until people
accompanying the sheik stopped him.
Two former hotel
employees also testified they saw the sheik whip Orsi
with the belt.
Orsi told the
court, "I didn't even know it was the sheik at that
time. He was dressed in shirt and jeans."
Orsi's injuries and post-traumatic shock left him incapable
The sheik is a
brother of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was
appointed president of the United Arab Emirates in 2004
after the death of their father, Sheik Zayed bin
Sultan Al Nahyan.
Orsi said the
sheik's aides had offered him a $15,500 compensation to
prevent him from filing a complaint. He said he refused the
money and was threatened by the sheik's employees.
Lawyers said it
could take weeks or months for the three judges in the
case to issue a verdict. (AP)