Saudi Princess Jailed on Charges of Beating Servant

When a princess dresses in the morning, she usually doesn't reach for a blue jail jumpsuit.

But Princess Buniah al-Saud, a niece of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, donned the outfit while spending a night in jail for allegedly beating her maid and pushing her down a flight of stairs.

She was also charged Tuesday with stealing $6,000 worth of electronic equipment from her chauffeur, whose apartment she was staying in.

The princess was ordered freed on $5,000 bail Tuesday afternoon and told to surrender her passport. She was also ordered not have any contact with Memet Ismiyati, her Indonesian maid.

Al-Saud, 41, was arrested late Monday and booked into the Orange County Jail on charges of beating the woman.

She could get up to 15 years in prison if the case goes to trial and she is convicted as charged, with the felony of aggravated battery.

She appeared before a judge Tuesday via a video link between the jail and the Orange County Courthouse. She said nothing, but smiled brightly at the camera when the brief afternoon bond hearing got under way.

Neighbors called 911 Friday after Ismiyati, 36, ran crying from the apartment she shared with the princess. She told deputies al-Saud beat her, hit her head against a wall and pushed her down a flight of stairs, leaving her unable to walk.

"When we talked to her (Ismiyati) through an Indonesian interpreter and saw the extent of her injuries, we upgraded the charges to a felony," said Orange County Undersheriff Malone Stewart.

Ismiyati told deputies that she "couldn't take it anymore."

Ismiyati was treated at a hospital and released.

When deputies went to the princess' apartment Friday, she denied striking or pushing the maid, according to sheriff's deputies' reports.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the princess had diplomatic immunity. But the Immigration and Naturalization Service said al-Saud failed to follow proper procedures by not notifying them of her itinerary in America, thereby leaving her without immunity.

In order to claim diplomatic immunity, a person must be accredited with his or her embassy or consulate and must be in the host country fulfilling a diplomatic function, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

The princess has been living in Orlando while studying English at the University of Central Florida.

In 1995, another Saudi princess was accused of beating her servants while visiting Orlando. Princess Maha Al-Sudairi, wife of the heir to the Saudi throne, reportedly beat a servant suspected of stealing $200,000 in cash and jewelry in front of deputies providing off-duty security for the princess. The deputies were later disciplined for not stopping the beating, not writing a report about the beating and not investigating a tip that another servant had been beaten.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.