Probe into mother's death after custody fight with prince

By Jennifer Lipman, August 20, 2012

A French Jewish mother locked in a custody battle with a member of the Saudi royal family who she claimed had kidnapped her daughter has fallen to her death, just a few months after a court ruled in her favour.

The circumstances of Candice Cohen-Ahnine's death remain unclear, but there is speculation in parts of the French media over how the 35-year-old fell from her fourth-floor Paris balcony.

Her lawyer has denied that it could be suicide, while it has also been claimed that she had spoken of being under threat before the accident.

Her tragic tale began more than a decade ago, when she became romantically involved with Prince Sattam al-Saoud. The prince showered her with gifts and luxury trips, and in 2001 their daughter, Aya, was born.

Five years later, the relationship collapsed, after it emerged that the prince was due to marry a cousin and that Ms Cohen-Ahnine could only be his "second wife".

In 2008 she brought her daughter to stay at the Riyadh palace, but claimed she was separated from the girl and subsequently forced to flee without her. The resulting court battle for her care was resolved in January, when a judge granted Ms Cohen-Ahnine custody. Despite this, the prince reportedly ignored the ruling and faced an international arrest warrant.

Ms Cohen-Ahnine, who wrote a book about her unsuccessful struggle, was due to be reunited with her daughter next month, according to her lawyer Laurence Tarquiny-Charpentier.

"What I can tell you is that it wasn't a suicideā€¦ She was a woman who was a real fighter," he claimed.

Last updated: 8:16pm, August 22 2012