A mother who was involved in a bitter child custody battle with a Saudi prince she met in London has plunged to her death from a luxury apartment block.
Candice Cohen-Ahnine, 35, had told relatives 'I feel threatened' in the days before she fell from the fourth floor of the complex off the Champs Elysee in Paris.
Suicide has been ruled out, prompting fears that the tragedy may be connected to her dispute with Sattam al-Saud, a member of the hugely wealthy Saudi royal family.
The prince separated from Miss Cohen-Ahnine in 2006 after an on-off relationship during which he had only allowed her fleeting meetings with their now 10-year-old daughter, Aya.
Miss Cohen-Ahnine was awarded custody of Aya by a French court earlier this year, but the prince had failed to hand over the girl before the mother died.
Miss Cohen-Ahnine had been due to visit her daughter in Saudi Arabia next month.
Today it emerged that Ms Cohen-Ahnine, a Frenchwoman whose original Jewish faith always caused tensions with the Muslim Saudis even after she converted, had complained of threats.
‘Candice’s custody battle with the Saudis was becoming increasingly bitter, but she was determined to get Aya back,’ said a source close to the police investigation into her death, which happened on Thursday.
Death fall: Miss Cohen-Ahnine, 35, plunged from the fourth floor of a luxury apartment block off the Champs Elysee in Paris
‘A relative has confirmed that she complained of being threatened over the past few days.’
The claim has been confirmed by Ms Cohen-Ahnine’s French lawyer, Laurence Tarquiny-Charpentier, who added: ‘What I can tell you is that it was not suicide.’
Miss Cohen-Ahnine met the Saudi prince in 1998 at Browns nightclub in London, and their daughter was born in November 2001.
Sattam al-Saud said he was obliged to marry a cousin in 2006, and when Miss Cohen-Ahnine refused to be his second wife.
Estranged: Candice Cohen-Ahnine and Prince Sattam al-Saud, pictured early in their relationship. The couple met in London in 1998 and had their daughter in 2001, but they later became involved in an increasingly bitter custody battle
The relationship broke down completely in 2008 after Miss Cohen-Ahnine agreed to visit the Saudi capital Riyadh with her daughter.
Miss Cohen-Ahnine alleged that they were locked up in a palace and that she was also accused of being a Muslim convert from Judaism – a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
Father: Prince Sattam al-Saud's on-off relationship with Miss Cohen-Ahnine ended in 2006 when he said he was obliged to marry a cousin
Miss Cohen-Ahnine was able to escape to the French embassy after a maid left her door open, and she eventually returned to France.
However, Aya remained in Saudi Arabia and Miss Cohen-Ahnine went on to express worry about her upbringing when she came across Facebook images of the girl wearing a niqab and playing with guns.
Miss Cohen-Ahnine wrote about her incarceration in a book called Give My Daughter Back, published last year.
She claimed she was locked in a room without any soap to wash with.
She said she was given rotten food and no drinking water, adding: 'When Aya managed to escape from her room to bring me a piece of bread or a bit of toothpaste, she was hit in front of me.'
In January a Paris criminal court ordered Sattam al-Saud to hand Aya back and pay child custody of some £8,000 a month.
The prince, who faced an international arrest warrant for ignoring the custody terms, denied he had ever ‘kidnapped’ his own daughter, saying: ‘She was free to come and go as she pleased.’
However, after the hearing, the prince was reported to have told Nouvel Observateur magazine: 'If need be, I’ll go like [Osama] bin Laden and hide in the mountains with Aya.'
He added before Miss Cohen-Ahnine’s death: ‘France has not got a right to take her back.
'She is a Saudi citizen and a princess. They cannot oblige a princess to leave this country.’
Miss Cohen-Ahnine died from her injuries at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris after the fall in the Rue Chambiges.
Initial investigations by the Paris prosecutor suggest that she had been trying to get into a neighbouring flat through an open window – suggesting she had been trying to escape.
Witnesses heard the drama, but did not intervene, a police source added, with Mr Tarquiny-Charpentier saying he spoke to Miss Cohen-Ahnine ‘a few hours’ before and ‘she was fine’.
She had been due to travel to Riyadh in September, and was likely to have had her daughter back ‘within a month’, added Mr Tarquiny-Charpentier.
Autopsy results will be released later this week, and they may throw further light on exactly what happened.
Aya, meanwhile, remains in Saudi Arabia with her father, who is yet to comment on Ms Cohen-Ahnine’s death.
Jean-Claude Elfassi, who co-wrote Miss Cohen-Ahnine's book, wrote an online tribute to her and criticised the French authorities for failing to enforce the court order.
He wrote: 'I can only express my disgust at the slow pace of the judge in charge of his case that, three years after the commencement of the trial, has not yet issued an arrest warrant against... Prince Saud al Sattam.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2190838/French-mother-won-custody-battle-Saudi-prince-falls-death-Paris-home.html#ixzz245JQeUK0