A former prime minister of Qatar has been accused of running a landmark London hotel and doing business deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds while claiming diplomatic immunity under the Vienna convention, which forbids commercial activity for personal profit. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is at the centre of a case brought in the English courts by Fawaz al-Attiya, a UK national born in London, who claims Qatari agents acting on the sheikh’s behalf falsely imprisoned him in Doha for 15 months and subjected him to conditions amounting to torture. Attiya claims he was kept in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and only let out in handcuffs to be interrogated. He also alleges that Thani, also known as HBJ, arranged for the confiscation of his property. Attiya is seeking damages of hundreds of millions of pounds for the loss of ancestral land. Lawyers for HBJ said the allegations were “a combination of distortion, exaggeration and wholesale fabrication”. They said the former PM did not direct and had no involvement with Attiya’s incarceration. No defence has yet been served by HBJ because his lawyers are challenging the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the claim, arguing that as a diplomat HBJ is entitled to immunity.
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