A Saudi prince has been arrested after a video emerged online purporting to show him abusing someone and pointing a rifle at another.
King Salman ordered the arrest and interrogation of the prince on Wednesday, a day after short clips were published on YouTube and shared on Twitter showing what appears to be a rifle pointed towards a man bleeding from the head and pleading.
One video, viewed more than 760,000 times, shows 18 bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky on a table and a wad of cash. The sale and consumption of alcohol in Saudi Arabia is forbidden.
Another shows a man sitting in a car, bleeding and being cursed at for parking in front of a house, while a further clip shows what appears to be the prince punching and slapping a man sitting on a chair.
The clips went viral in Saudi Arabia under an Arabic Twitter hashtag that said “prince transgresses on citizens”.
Saudi Arabia’s state TV reported on Wednesday that the king ordered a full investigation into the incidents and the arrest of Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, as well as any associates who appeared in the clips. He ordered that no individual involved in the case be released until a court had issued a ruling in line with the country’s sharia laws.
In the order, King Salman urged people to remain vigilant in monitoring any exploitation of status or abuse of power.
After he issued the order, a video seen nearly 250,000 times showed the young, low-level prince, dressed in a black T-shirt and grey jogging bottoms, handcuffed and with his feet chained, being escorted into a building by security officers.
While many Saudis wrote in support of the king’s decision on Twitter, the outspoken rights activist Moudi Aljohani said the order pointed to how lax the authorities were when it came to royals.
While Saudi royals are given privileged status in the kingdom, in addition to undisclosed monthly allowances from the state, they are not immune to prosecution. In an extremely rare event, the kingdom executed a prince last October who had fatally shot another man. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world.
Since ascending to the throne in 2015, King Salman has branded himself a “decisive” leader. He has fired ministers caught on video being rude or insulting citizens. He also fired a senior royal court official who was filmed slapping a photographer.
Before becoming king, Salman served as the governor of the capital, Riyadh, and as defence minister. A leaked 2007 US embassy memo said he “is often the referee in family disputes”. He also reportedly oversaw a prison for wayward royals in Riyadh.