American appeals Swiss clearing of Emirates sheik

Posted on 07 Apr 2009 at 3:28pm
By Associated Press

Silvano Orsi says sheik hit him with a belt after fondling and trying to kiss him

GENEVA — An American whipped by the brother of the United Arab Emirates’ ruler in a Swiss hotel bar will go to court to challenge the quashing of his attacker’s criminal conviction, his lawyer said Monday, April 6.

Sheik Falah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 38, was convicted in July last year for hitting Silvano Orsi, 40, of Rochester, New York, with a belt after the American declined a bottle of champagne the sheik offered him. He was fined $9,820.

A Geneva appeals court last month quashed the conviction of inflicting bodily harm with a dangerous object because the belt could not be considered dangerous, Orsi’s lawyer Alec Raymond said Monday. The court confirmed the belt attack.

Reymond said, "A belt — even if it’s held by the buckle — can cause serious injuries because it has the effect of a whip" and therefore must be considered a dangerous object.

Orsi will take his case to the Swiss supreme court to try to have the conviction reinstated.

Orsi claims that after refusing the champagne, the sheik, whom he had never met, came up behind him, jostled his glasses, sat on his lap and tried to kiss and fondle him. When Orsi protested, the assault began, he says.

The sheik told investigators that he got into a heated argument with Orsi after he overheard someone call him gay. Al Nahyan acknowledged that he pulled his belt from his trousers but denied striking Orsi.

Defense lawyer Marco Crisante said Orsi’s accusations are false and motivated by his desire to gain money from the sheik.

Geneva’s chief prosecutor, Daniel Zappelli has said Orsi’s injuries and post-traumatic shock from the beating in August 2003 left him incapable of working.

The defendant 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.

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