Meshael Alayban, the Saudi princess who was arrested earlier this month after being accused of human trafficking, failed to show up for her hearing Tuesday.
“I am concerned the defendant is not here,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Gerald G. Johnston said. However, there was no court order for Alayban to appear.
The 42-year-old’s defense attorneys, Paul S. Meyer and Jennifer L. Keller, said their client was complying with all court orders. They did not say where she was or why she didn’t show up to court.
Alayban was arrested on July 9 after a Kenyan woman flagged down a bus and told a passenger that she believed she had been a victim of human trafficking. The passenger then helped the woman get in contact with police, who searched Alayban’s Orange County condominium. Alayban was charged with one count of human trafficking and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. The Saudi princess is required to submit to GPS monitoring and is banned from leaving Orange County without prior authorization.
The unidentified victim said that Alayban promised to pay her $1,600 a month, but she only received $200 in wages. Meyer said the case was a contractual dispute.
“This is a domestic work hours dispute,” he said.
Shortly after her arrest, Meshael Alayban — who is one of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud’s six wives –was released on $5 million bail, paid by Saudi consulate. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas initially asked a judge to either deny bail or set it at $20 million, and said he thought it was unlikely that she would show up for her court hearing. Rackauckas also denied Meyer’s claim that the case was over wages, referring to it as forced labor and comparing it to slavery.
“This is not a contract dispute,” Rackauckas said. “This is holding someone captive against their will.”
Meshael Alayban’s arraignment has been rescheduled for September 20.