Judge denies bid to reduce Saudi man's sentence

AP News
Posted: Jan 02, 2014 7:21 PM

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado judge on Thursday denied a Saudi man's request to return to his home country to complete his prison term for sexually abusing his Indonesian housekeeper and keeping her as a virtual slave.

Homaidan al-Turki is serving eight years to life in a state prison after being convicted in 2006 of unlawful sexual contact by use of force, false imprisonment and other counts.

The Saudi government had asked the judge to allow al-Turki to be deported to Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials promised to enforce whatever prison terms Colorado imposed.

In denying the request, Arapahoe County District Judge J. Mark Hannen said he does not have the authority under state law to make such a sentencing modification.

Prosecutors argued against al-Turki's transfer, saying he refused to participate in a required program for sex offenders. They also questioned whether Saudi Arabia would carry out al-Turki's sentence.

Al-Turki, a linguist, was living in the Denver suburb of Aurora when he was indicted in 2005. He was charged with repeatedly raping the housekeeper, but the jury convicted him on a lesser charge of unlawful sexual contact.

Prosecutors allege the housekeeper spent four years cooking and cleaning for the al-Turki family while sleeping on a mattress on the basement floor and getting paid less than $2 a day. Al-Turki was accused of hiding her passport.

He denied the allegations, saying he was a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment.

The case angered Saudi authorities and prompted the U.S. State Department to send Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan and al-Turki's family after al-Turki's conviction.

Al-Turki's lawyers argued he refused to participate in the sex-offender program on religious grounds because it required him to look at photos of women in bathing suits or undergarments. They also said he would have to confess to the crimes, which they say he cannot do because he is challenging his conviction.

Saudi officials said their sex-offender program would involve al-Turki's family and would incorporate religious and cultural education, which they said cannot happen in Colorado.

Al-Turki's case became enmeshed with this year's slaying of Tom Clements, the head of Colorado's prison system. Clements was shot to death at his home in March about a week after denying a request by al-Turki to be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

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In October, Colorado prison officials confirmed that they had investigated al-Turki in connection with Clements' death but found nothing linking him to the crime. The officials said an assessment of al-Turki found no allegations of misconduct.

Still, prosecutors said al-Turki remains a person of interest in the Clements investigation and argued that he should be kept in Colorado in case he is ever linked to the crime.

Investigators have yet to identify Clements' killer. But the gun used to kill him was found on a former Colorado prison inmate, Evan Spencer Ebel, who died two days after Clements' murder in a shootout with authorities in Texas.

Paul Hollenbeck, an associate director of Colorado's prisons, testified that Clements had been prepared to grant al-Turki a transfer but changed his mind after hearing from an FBI agent. Hollenbeck didn't elaborate on what the agent said or why the transfer was denied.