saudi flag
© Cliff Owen/AP
French prosecutors are 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, mostly from the Philippines aged 38 -51, 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 for several years.

They were allegedly paid the equivalent of 300 euros a month and said they were forced to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Saudi prince involved in the allegations has not been publicly named.

The prince and his family reportedly take regular holidays to France during the summers, and are known to bring employees with them on their journeys.

A source close to the case who refused to be named said the women managed to escape during a recent trip to France.

The alleged abuse occurred in 2008, 2013 and 2015 at the apartment in a Paris suburb.

Some of the workers 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 women claim they were subjected to various forms of humiliation and mistreatment over the years, including 'orders of attending to the employer's needs all day and night all week long, with no breaks.'

They were allegedly 'starved, forced to eat leftovers and have to leave as soon as they are called for by their employers.'

'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.

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.

It is unknown whether the prince has rights to diplomatic immunity, in which case prosecutors would likely be unable to arrest the prince or bring any charges against him.