With thanks: Simone, Adrian and Michelle
After winning a battle with a Saudi Prince for custody of their daughter, a French-Jewish woman, Candice Cohen Ahnine, has fallen to her death from her fourth floor Paris apartment in mysterious circumstances.
Was it an accident or a murder? Le Parisien reports that questions surround the death of Candice Cohen Ahnine, 35. For four years she had engaged in a custody battle for her daughter, 11, kidnapped by the child’s father, Prince Sattam of the royal house of Saud. On the day Candice died it seems that the young woman was trying to escape ‘something dangerous’ by climbing on to the balcony next door. Her relatives report that she felt ‘threatened’ recently.
An autopsy will be carried out next week and her neighbours interviewed. Her lawyer is said to be devastated by news of Candice Cohen Ahnine’s death. Suicide seems unlikely: her mood was upbeat and elated as she planned her trip to Saudi Arabia in hopes of being reunited with her daughter.
Point of No Return readers will be fascinated by the Jewish angle to this story. Apart from the fact that Candice’s origins are North African Sephardi, it is not known what her family thought of their daughter’s love entanglement with a Saudi prince.
In this video interview recorded in February 2012 (in French), Candice, who wrote a book called ‘Rendez-moi ma fille‘, smiles as she recalls falling in love with the prince, whom she met in a London nightclub.”We were the same age, two spoilt kids,” she remembers. Then things turned sour: she talks of her imprisonment in Prince Sattam’s palace in Riyadh for months on end. On one occasion a female member of the household insulted her, calling her a dirty Jew. She tells how the prince’s family tried to get her to sign her death warrant – stating that she was a Muslim who had converted to Judaism. Apostasy is a crime punishable by death. She did not agree to sign.
The Daily Telegraph reported in January 2012:
The Paris criminal court ordered Prince Sattam al-Saud from the kingdom’s founding royal family, to hand over custody of his daughter Aya to her French mother, Candice Cohen-Ahnine, and provide child support of €10,000 (£8,300) a month.
For the past three-and-a-half years, the prince has kept Aya in a Riyadh palace despite efforts by the French foreign ministry and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office to resolve the issue.
But the French court ruling appears to have had no effect on the prince. “What do I care of Sarkozy?” he is cited as telling Nouvel Observateur magazine. “If need be, I’ll go like [Osama] bin Laden and hide in the mountains with Aya.”
Miss Cohen-Ahnin, 34, and the prince met in London 14 years ago at Brown’s nightclub and their daughter was born in November 2001.
Their relationship continued until 2006 when he allegedly announced that he was obliged to marry a cousin, but that she could be a second wife. She refused and they separated.
Miss Cohen-Ahnine claimed that her daughter was taken from her during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2008 and that she was held in the prince’s palace where she had only fleeting meetings with her daughter.
She said she managed to leave when a maid left her door open and she sought refuge in the French embassy.
Miss Cohen-Ahnin was eventually spirited out of the country after the prince allegedly produced a document purporting that she had been Muslim but had converted to Judaism — a crime punishable by death.