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Spain drops rape probe of Saudi prince

A Spanish court has dropped a rape probe against a Saudi prince who is one of the world's richest people, saying his accuser's allegations are inconsistent and do not stand up.

The ruling clearing Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, 57, was dated March 26 and released Thursday by a court in Palma in Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

The drugging and sexual assault of a young Spanish model was alleged to have occurred aboard a yacht moored at the island of Ibiza in the wee hours of Aug. 12, 2008. A judge on the popular resort island quietly closed the probe in 2010, citing a lack of evidence.

However, a higher provincial court in the Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza, accepted an appeal by the plaintiff and issued an order in September 2011 instructing the same magistrate to resume the probe and question the prince as a suspect.

The prince was listed 29th on the latest Forbes list of the world's richest people ,with a net worth of $18 billion. He is a leading investor in both Citigroup and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media empire.

The prince said the court's final decision dismissing the allegations vindicates his argument that he was not even in Ibiza that day but rather in France with his wife, children, grandchildren and other witnesses.

The court in Palma said the accuser's version of events was riddled with inconsistencies in her several appearances to give testimony.

It said the woman did not initially accuse the prince by name as being her rapist. Rather, her lawyer did so much later. The court called this is a "procedural anomaly that since then has tainted the entire investigation."

The ruling also said she presented a photo of a group of people purporting to identify the prince as the man who allegedly raped her. There is an arrow pointing to a man in the background, and the word "rapist" written there. But the prince is standing in the foreground, front of that man.

The ruling says when asked about this, the accuser said it was her mother who drew the arrow on that and several other photos.

The court said it also found it noteworthy that the woman took 48 hours to report the alleged rape to the Spanish authorities.

Given her inconsistencies "we cannot establish with any solidity whatsoever, even circumstantially, what happened" on the night of the alleged incident, the court declared.

The prince, in a statement, reiterated he had not even heard of the case against him until it was resurrected last September.

"No one's character should be subject to such dishonest attacks," the statement said.

It said the prince is pursuing criminal actions against the accuser, her mother and their attorney, and professional sanctions against the attorney for unethical behavior.