Saudi princes arrested for holding anti-austerity protest


Saudi princes arrested for holding anti-austerity protest

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The protest took place in the Saudi capital Riyadh, local media reported

Saudi authorities have arrested 11 princes for holding a protest at a royal palace in the capital Riyadh.

The group were angered by the government's decision to stop paying the water and energy bills of royals. Those involved have not been named.

The government is currently attempting a major economic overhaul to reduce its dependence on oil revenues.

Public spending has been targeted, including the lifting of some government subsidies.

The kingdom has roughly doubled domestic petrol prices and introduced a 5% tax on most goods and services, including food and utility bills.

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News of the sit-in was first reported on the Saudi website Sabq.

The princes also said they wanted compensation after one of their cousins was handed the death sentence for an unspecified crime, according to Sabq.

A statement from the Saudi public prosecutor seen by Reuters confirmed the arrests. It said the men were being held in prison on charges of disturbing public peace and order.

Last year dozens of princes, as well as sitting ministers and ex-ministers, were arrested as part of an anti-corruption drive.

The Saudi royal family is thought to number thousands, but the wealth and status between them can vary wildly.

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