The Sultan of Brunei has taken a surprising step in the ongoing legal wrangles with his estranged brother. Prince Jefri Bolkiah will find it difficult to appeal a ruling ordering him to hand over billions of pounds worth of properties and jewels after his sibling declared himself infallible.
Newly-released legal papers show that the Sultan rewrote his homeland's constitution 18 months ago in order to give himself the same status as the Pope. "His Majesty the Sultan ... can do no wrong in either his personal or any official capacity," reads the document.
"No person shall publish or reproduce in Brunei or elsewhere any part of proceedings ... that may have the effect of lowering or adversely affecting directly or indirectly the position, dignity, standing, honour, eminence or sovereignty of His Majesty the Sultan."
Prince Jefri, who lives in London, is expected to challenge the decision, though it will be almost impossible for him to convince any court in Brunei of his right to appeal. The row goes back six years to an out-of-court settlement compelling the royal to surrender £3 billion worth of assets.
According to the Sultan, his younger brother embezzled some £8 billion during his years as finance minister and has failed to honour the agreement drawn up in 2000. The 59-year-old monarch also claims that, "unless Prince Jefri won the lottery or had some good evenings in the casino", his extravagant lifestyle, which is said to cost £275,000 a month, is being maintained by undisclosed assets.
Among the possessions under dispute are a mansion in London, the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles and other properties in Paris, Singapore, Malaysia, Indoensia, Japan, Britain and the US.