- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Silvano Orsi likens his ordeal to a horror movie.

One moment he’s sipping fruit juice at a posh Swiss hotel with a friend while living in Geneva. The next, he says, he’s being pummeled by a stranger — an Arab sheik whose brother is ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

Unemployed for more than two years, Mr. Orsi is back in the United States, living with his parents. He walks with a limp, suffers nightmares and rarely leaves home.

“I didn’t do anything to instigate this,” the 38-year-old said.

Sheik Fallah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was charged in Switzerland in November with suspicion of assault with a dangerous instrument, which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. A Swiss magistrate will decide whether to recommend a criminal trial.

The sheik acknowledged the men got into a heated scuffle when he overheard someone remark that “this sheik is gay,” according to a transcript of a closed-door hearing in March. But he insisted he never struck Mr. Orsi nor arranged to pay him $13,000 in hush money.

Defense attorney Marco Crisante declined to discuss specifics of the case.

Calls to the press office of the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington were not returned.

Mr. Orsi, the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in suburban Rochester. He said he moved to Geneva in 2000 to become head of international operations at Swisscom AG. In 2002, he joined a telecommunications consulting firm that dealt with chiefly Middle Eastern clients.

Mr. Orsi said he had no idea who Sheik Fallah was before they met on the evening of Aug. 19, 2003.

In court papers and in an interview, Mr. Orsi said he was chatting with a Saudi friend near the bar at La Reserve hotel when a tipsy, casually dressed passer-by asked where he was from. The stranger offered him a drink.

Mr. Orsi declined, saying he didn’t drink alcohol, but the man sent over a bottle of Dom Perignon. Mr. Orsi said he politely waved his thanks but left the unopened champagne on the table.

Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Orsi said, the man suddenly came up behind him, jostled his glasses, sat in his lap and tried to kiss and fondle him. When Mr. Orsi protested, the assault began, he said. At one point, Mr. Orsi said, the man removed his belt and whipped him with the metal buckle.

Mr. Orsi said he then learned that the man was a son of Emirates leader Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheik Fallah’s elder brother, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was appointed president when their father died in November 2004.

Sheik Fallah said at a March 13 hearing in the Geneva magistrate’s office that he was annoyed when Mr. Orsi refused the champagne but confronted him “after I was called gay,” according to a transcript obtained by the Associated Press.

Mr. Orsi said he sustained a herniated disk, nerve damage in his right leg and post-traumatic stress disorder, and he plans to sue the sheik and the hotel for damages.

“This has ruined my life,” he said.

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