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Saudi princess: Human trafficking case dismissed

Meshael Alayban smiles in court as the human trafficking case against her is dismissed on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.
September 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a surprise move, prosecutors dropped a human trafficking charge against a Saudi Arabian princess due to lack of corroboration.

"This has been a nightmare for this family. This is an exceptional family in Saudi Arabia. It's a revered family. I can tell you that the dismissal today answers the prayers of 26 million people," said defense attorney Paul Meyer. "The princess is free, people have been praying for that."

Meshael Alayban was accused of forcing a Kenyan woman to work as a domestic slave. She had allegedly taken the maid's passport, forced her to work long hours for little pay and denied medical care for her.

She is one of six wives to a Saudi prince, whose grandfather is the king of Saudi Arabia.

Alayban was in court Friday for an arraignment hearing when Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said investigators were unable to corroborate the allegations, and then moved to have the case dismissed.

"The allegations were strong. We had reasons to believe that they were true, and we were dealing with certainly a family of people who travel the world over and could leave the jurisdiction within a short time, and so I think that bringing the case under the circumstances was the right thing to do," Rackauckas said. "At the time, it did appear that the evidence corroborated what she was saying, but as we looked deeper into it, it just didn't."

The 42-year-old mother of three was arrested on July 9 after the alleged victim contacted police, saying she had just escaped from Alayban's Irvine condominium. The woman claimed she was forced to serve as many as eight people living in four apartments.

The attorney for the princess says that the Kenyan maid lied to try to get permanent residence status in the U.S.

Alayban got her passport back. The consulate had posted $5 million bail after she had been arrested, and that bail is now exonerated. The attorney for the princess would not say whether she plans to stay in Orange County or return home. He says that he's just glad that the princess now has her own life back in her own hands.


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