Saudi princess set to be arraigned on trafficking-A A +A
Friday, September 20, 2013
SANTA ANA, California -- A Saudi princess was scheduled to appear in a California courtroom Friday to answer to charges that she took her Kenyan maid's passport and forced her to work long hours for meager pay.
Meshael Alayban, 42, was expected to be arraigned on one count of human trafficking. She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
The maid escaped from Alayban's condo in July, got on a bus and told a passenger her story, authorities said. The passenger helped her contact police, who searched the condominium where Alayban and her family were staying.
Alayban and her attorneys have likened the issue to a contract dispute and said the maid and her counterparts were treated well.
"These women had cellphones, Internet, Facebook, and the family even bought cable in their native language for them," a statement read by Alayban's attorneys outside a July hearing said. "They enjoyed full use of the spa, gym and pool and were often dropped off to shop alone at neighborhood malls, all paid for by the family."
But District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the circumstances were closer to slavery.
"This is not a contract dispute," Rackauckas said at an earlier bail hearing. "This is holding someone captive against their will."
Alayban is free on $5 million in bail posted by the Saudi consulate. (AP)