Saudi princess arrested for human trafficking



Zee Media Bureau

Santa Ana (California): In a bizarre case, a Saudi princess has been arrested on the charge of human trafficking for forcibly keeping her Kenyan domestic help at a condo in California, reports ad Thursday.

The princess named Meshael Alayban was found staying at a condominium in California with her family when police came looking for her.

The 42-year old princess has been charged on one count of human trafficking and may face 12 years of jail if convicted.

The princess has been accused of holding captive her 30-year old Kenyan maid against her will, prosecutors said.

Authorities say that the princess forced the maid to work excessive hours wih a lesser than promised pay. Also the maid was not allowed to leave, authorities said.

Alayban was arrested after a Kenyan woman carrying a suitcase flagged down a bus and told a passenger she believed she was a human trafficking victim. The passenger helped her contact police, who searched the condo where Alayban and her family were staying, authorities said.

The 30-year-old woman was hired in Kenya in 2012 and her passport was taken from her on arrival in Saudi Arabia.

"This is not a contract dispute," Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told a bail hearing yesterday afternoon. "This is holding someone captive against their will."

A judge set bail at 5 million dollars for Alayban and required her to submit to GPS monitoring. He also banned her from leaving the county without prior authorisation.

Alayban did not appear in court. Her attorney, Paul Meyer, said the case was a contractual dispute and argued his client shouldn't be assigned a ransom-like bail solely because she was rich.

He said she had been travelling to the United States since she was a child, owned properties here and had given her word she would address the allegations.

"This is a domestic work hours dispute," he said. Police say Alayban's family travelled to the United States in May with the victim and four women from the Philippines. The victim was working "around the clock" for the family cooking, cleaning and caring for children, said Irvine police chief David Maggard Jr.

She had been promised wages of 1,600 dollars a month but was paid only about 200 dollars a month, Rackauckas said.

With Agency Inputs