RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s attorney general on Sunday confirmed 11 princes had been arrested after protesting the kingdom’s austerity measures and would face trial after “disrupting public peace and order”.
Saudi media on Saturday had reported the princes arrested after gathering outside Qasr al-Hokm, a historical palace in Riyadh, in protest against a government decision to stop paying the water and electricity bills of royals.
They were also demanding compensation for a death sentence issued against one of their cousins, convicted of murder and executed in 2016, attorney general Saud al-Mojeb said.
“Despite being informed that their demands are not lawful, the 11 princes refused to leave the area, disrupting public peace and order,” Mojeb said in a statement issued by the information ministry.
“Following their arrest, they have been charged on a number of counts in relation to these offences”.
The 11 are being held at the maximum security Al-Hayer prison, south of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has introduced a string of austerity measures over the past two years to boost revenues and cut spending as the global slump in oil prices led to ballooning budget deficits.
The kingdom’s push to diversify its oil-dependent economy has been linked to the arrest of more than 200 princes in November in an anti-corruption purge spearheaded by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son and heir to the throne.
Most of those detained were held at the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which has turned into a luxury prison.