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Saudi sex-assault convict argues for release

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Greg Campbell Contributor

A Saudi national serving eight years to life in a Colorado prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting his live-in housekeeper wants to serve the rest of his sentence in his home country.

His lawyers say the “cultural support” he’d have in Saudi Arabia would benefit his treatment in a sex offender rehab program, but prosecutors are afraid he’ll simply be let go if he is returned.

Homaidan al-Turki’s request to transfer out of country was already denied once by Colorado Corrections Chief Tom Clements, just a week before Clements was gunned down in his home by parolee Evan Ebel, according to reports.

Prison officials investigated whether the denial, which reversed an earlier decision to grant the request, was connected to Clements’ death. Al-Turki was removed from the general prison population immediately after Clements’ killing, but later returned, the Denver Post reported. His lawyers have said there is no evidence of his involvement in the murder.

Al-Turki was convicted in 2006 of repeatedly sexually assaulting an Indonesian woman who cooked, cleaned and cared for his children from 2000 to 2004. Reports indicated that she slept in the basement of his Aurora, Colo. home, where Al-Turki raped and fondled her while his wife and children were upstairs. He kept her passport so she couldn’t leave and paid her less than $2 per day.

In court testimony reported by Al Arabiya News, Al-Turki said he was targeted because of his religion and his ethnicity.

He also defended his actions.

“The restrictions placed on her contact with non-relative males were also the same as those applicable to my daughters and other Muslim women in our community,” the news site reported him saying, based on the translation of an Arabic website dedicated to his defense.

“You cannot ask somebody from a different religion to be American to the fullest,” he reportedly said. “You cannot ask them to go dancing, go to the bars. We are Muslim. We are different. The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors. Attacking traditional Muslim behaviors is a focal point of the prosecution.”

Now, Al-Turki is back in court to argue that he should be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in Saudi Arabia. He cannot be considered for release unless he completes sex offender treatment. Al-Turki has refused treatment because it conflicts with his religion, according to a letter Clements wrote denying his transfer to Saudi Arabia.

“To date you have declined those opportunities to be assessed for potential placement in treatment … based upon religious reasons / conflicts with your Islamic faith,” Clements wrote, according to the Colorado Observer.

Prosecutors argued that Al-Turki would be released if he were sent back to Saudi Arabia, where interest in the case is very high. Anger over his conviction was such that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was sent to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan and Al-Turki’s family to smooth things over, according to The Denver Post.

Earlier reports suggested that Clements changed his mind from an earlier recommendation to grant the transfer, based on pressure from the public as well as prosecutors and federal authorities.

At last Thursday’s hearing, several Saudi nationals attended to show their support for Al-Turki.

“We got a lot of motivation from people in Saudi Arabia to ‘go to the court, give us the news and find out what’s going on,’” said University of Colorado-Denver student Abdullah al-Mutairi told Denver’s 7News. The station also noted a Twitter campaign for the convicted Saudi running under the #1000_Children_for_AITurki hashtag and featuring pictures of people indicating their support.

The hearing is expected to resume on Thursday.

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