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Lawyer: Saudi princess’ alleged servant flew first class, used spa

The Kenyan domestic servant who worked for a Saudi Arabian princess accused of human trafficking was not mistreated but instead flew first class, had her own cell phone and was given access to the spa and gym, attorneys for the princess said.

Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested at her home in Irvine this month for allegedly forcing the Kenyan woman to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for $220 a month. The servant, who has a young daughter in Kenya, could not leave because her passport was kept in a safe deposit box at a local bank, prosecutors said.

Orange County prosecutors identified Alayban as one of the wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

Alayban was scheduled to be arraigned Monday but did not appear in court. It was postponed until Sept. 20.

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After the hearing, defense attorneys Jennifer L. Keller and Paul S. Meyer offered a portrait of the servant’s living situation that contrasted sharply with what has emerged from prosecutors and police.

They said the woman, whose name has not been released, and other employees of the family traveled first-class to the U.S. on Emirates Airline with tickets that cost $10,000 each.

The family and the workers flew together “because the family would have felt guilty if they were in the back,” Keller said.

The family and servants arrived in May and moved into a high-end Irvine apartment community. Once there, the servants had cellphones and access to the Internet and Facebook, and the family gave them access to cable channels in their native languages, according to a statement provided by Keller and Meyer.

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The workers were allowed to use the spa, gym and pool and “were often dropped off to shop alone at neighborhood malls, all paid for by the family,” the statement said.

Prosecutors have said that the servant was refused a day off and not allowed to take breaks. They also said she was barred from leaving the home except for family outings in which she carried the family’s bags.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder said her office always welcomes new evidence but, she added, “it’s not unusual when you have defendants of this magnitude of resources, for them to try and make the victim of crime be the bad guy.”

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Twitter: @palomaesquivel

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com


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