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French prosecutors probe ‘slavery’ claims against Saudi prince

Inquiry opened after 7 women file complaints accusing royal of abuse spanning years in both Saudi Arabia and France

A security personnel stands in front of the French far-right Front National (FN) headquarters in Nanterre on February 20, 2017, during a search of the party's offices, as part of a case of misusing public funds. (AFP Photo/Christophe Simon)
Illustrative. February 20, 2017. (AFP Photo/Christophe Simon)

NANTERRE, France — French prosecutors said Monday that they were investigating claims that a Saudi prince kept seven employees in a state of modern-day slavery at an apartment he owned outside Paris.

The inquiry for human trafficking was opened after the women, most of them from the Philippines, filed complaints of modern-day slavery in October 2019, said the prosecutors’ office in the suburb city of Nanterre.

The maids had been recruited in Saudi Arabia and worked for the prince and his family there and in France, added a source close to the case, who refused to be named.

They apparently escaped during a trip to France, the source said.

The alleged abuse occurred in 2008, 2013, and 2015, at the apartment in the posh Neuilly-sur-Seine suburb west of the capital.

Prosecutors heard testimony from the women a few weeks ago, but the prince has yet to be questioned, since he is not currently in France, the source said.

Some of the women were required to sleep on the floor and barely had time to eat while serving the prince’s four children, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

“The first time we met with them, what was shocking to see was that they were hungry. They were crying with hunger,” Anick Fougeroux, president of the aid group SOS Esclaves (“Slaves”), told the paper.

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