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Irvine Saudi princess posts bail, appears in court for human trafficking case

July 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Saudi Arabian princess charged with human trafficking has posted $5 million bail after making her first appearance in court Thursday. She did not enter a plea.

Meshael Alayban will be required to stay in Orange County and wear a GPS monitoring device. Two passports in her name are also now in court custody and she's been ordered to have no contact with any of the victims.

Investigators say Alayban is one of six wives to a Saudi prince, whose grandfather is the king of Saudi Arabia. The 42-year-old mother of three is accused of forcing a Kenyan woman to work as a domestic slave. Alayban was arrested on Tuesday after the alleged victim contacted police after escaping from Alayban's Irvine condominium. The woman flagged down a bus, and a passenger saw her in distress and called 911.

The woman says she was forced to serve as many as eight people living in four apartments. She told authorities she left Kenya for the job in Saudi Arabia about 14 months ago to pay for her sick daughter's medical expenses.

"However when she arrived at the family residence the contract was torn up, her visa was confiscated, and she was put to work seven days a week, 16 hours a day. So that continued until they came to the United States," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

The victim said according to the original contract, she was supposed to be paid $1,600 a month and work five 8-hour days a week. However, she claims she was only paid $220 a month for the 16-hour days.

"My client was a slave to this woman. She wasn't able to freely move about. She had her ability to move in and around the country taken away. She was intimidated. She was promised one thing when she was in another country, and when she was brought here, that was changed. She was overworked. She was underpaid," said Steve Barick, the Kenyan woman's lawyer.

The Orange County District Attorney's office says Alayban also had four other women from the Philippines working for her under similar circumstances.

Detectives say they are working to recover the womens' documents, which are believed to be in a safe deposit box at a local bank. All five women are said to be in good health. No indications of physical abuse were found. They are currently under the care of a county shelter.

Also during the hearing, Alayban waived her right to be present at future hearings and the state was denied a request to raise bail.

Alayban is charged with one felony count of human trafficking. Her arraignment was postponed to July 29. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.


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