Saudi Princess in Court Over Human Trafficking Charges

Created: 2013-07-12 13:17 EST

Category: World > North America

A California prosecutor said on Thursday (July 11) that a Saudi princess charged with bringing a Kenyan woman to the United States and forcing her to work as a domestic servant could face more charges.

He likened the case to "slavery".

Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested on human trafficking charges at her apartment in suburban Irvine early on Wednesday.

Authorities say the alleged Kenyan victim had escaped from the residence and flagged down a bus driver.

The princess is charged with bringing the woman to the U.S., confiscating her passport and paying her two-hundred-and-twenty dollars a month to work sixteen hours a day, seven days per week.

The woman had been essentially held captive in the apartment complex.

Alayban made a brief appearance in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana on Thursday, standing in a caged area for criminal defendants and wearing blue jail garb.

The judge ordered her to surrender her passport, remain in Orange County and wear a GPS device to monitor her whereabouts.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says he expects the princess to post bail and be freed, but says it’s possible she will face added state or federal charges.

Police found four Filipino women whose status is unclear, believed to be working in Alayban's apartment in Irvine, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

[Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney]:
"It's been 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation so slavery has been illegal in the United States and certainly in California all this time. It's disappointing to see it in use here."

He says the alleged victim in the case, who is around 30 years old and worked for Alayban in Saudi Arabia for a year before being brought to California, was under protective custody.

The woman is expected to remain in the United States to testify in the case.

Rackauckas says the case is the first prosecuted in Orange County under California's voter-approved Proposition 35, which toughens penalties for human trafficking.