Santa Ana, California: A Saudi princess charged with human trafficking has posted $5 million bail a day after her California arrest.
Prosecutors say 42-year-old Meshael Al Ayban posted bail Thursday after appearing in court to face the felony charge, and was being released from Orange County jail.
“This is certainly an example of forced labour,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters after Thursday’s initial court appearance by the Saudi princess, 42. “It’s been 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and slavery has been unlawful in the United States, and certainly in California, all this time, and it’s disappointing to see it in use here.”
Al Ayban promptly posted $5 million bail and was being released from Orange County jail just a day after her arrest and hours after appearing in court to face a felony charge of human trafficking.
Rackauckas had asked the judge to set bail at $20 million or deny it entirely, saying it was unlikely any amount would guarantee a woman of such wealth would appear in court.
The judge did not agree with the lofty figure, but did raise bail to $5 million from the initial $1 million.
Defence attorney Paul Meyer said Al Ayban was not a flight risk. He said she has visited the US since she was a child, owns properties here and has given her word she will stay to address the allegations.
While free on bond, Al Ayban must wear a GPS tracking device and cannot leave Orange County without permission from the court. She has also turned over her passport and is barred from any contact with the victim.
Al Ayban did not enter a plea while appearing in court in a dark blue jail jumpsuit. Her arraignment was moved to July 29.
Meyer declined to comment on the case but previously said it was just a dispute over domestic work hours.
If convicted, Al A|yban faces a maximum sentence of 12 years, which is double the sentence she could have received a year ago, when penalties for trafficking were stiffened, Rackauckas said.
Prosecutors say Al Ayban is one of several wives of Saudi Prince Abdul Rahman Bin Nasser Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
The Saudi ruling family is extensive, with thousands of princes and princesses.
In 2002, Saudi princess Buniah Al Saud, who was accused of pushing her maid down a flight of stairs, entered a no-contest plea in Florida and was fined $1,000. In 1995, another Saudi princess, Maha Al Sudairi, allegedly beat a servant in front of sheriff’s deputies providing off-duty security. No charges were ever filed.