Hotelier testifies against Prince Ernst August
HILDESHEIM, Germany — A hotel owner testified Tuesday that Prince Ernst August of Hannover, husband of Caroline of Monaco, hit him with a “blow like an iron hammer” during a January 2000 altercation in Kenya.
Josef Brunlehner, owner of the hotel on Lamu Island, said the prince punched him in the chest and abdomen, causing multiple bruises, and shouted abuse at him.
The injuries required emergency-room treatment, Brunlehner testified, and suggested Ernst August had “possibly used a ring” to strike him.
Ernst August has acknowledged that he hit Brunlehner, but denied using anything but his hands. He was being retried after being convicted in 2004 of causing serious bodily harm and fined euro445,000 ($633,560).
The 55-year-old prince — a distant relative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and great-grandson of the last German emperor, Wilhelm II — is seeking to have the charge and sentence reduced.
In the first trial, the court ruled he repeatedly hit Brunlehner with a metal object in January 2000 after becoming irritated at the noise from a disco.
Kenyan authorities did not press charges, but it was pursued in Germany where the law allows prosecutors to charge citizens who commit crimes abroad.
As the retrial opened Monday in the Hildesheim state court no plea was entered, as per usual under the German trial system. In a written statement read by his attorney, Ernst August disputed the hotelier’s account.
The prince wore no ring and had “neither brass knuckles nor any other object in hand,” the statement said.
The prince won a retrial at the end of last year when witnesses — including Caroline — testified they could corroborate his story. The trial is expected to last 11 days. It was not clear whether Caroline would be called as a witness.