NOVEMBER 21, 2006
The federal government used taxpayer money to send Colorado’s attorney general on a costly Middle Eastern excursion aimed at assuring skeptical Arab officials that a convicted Saudi man – who they had bailed out of jail – received a fair U.S. trial.
Homaidan Al-Turki was convicted by a Denver jury of 12 counts of unlawful sexual contact with force, one count of theft of services, false imprisonment and conspiracy for sexually abusing and enslaving his housekeeper over several years. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and Saudi officials claim he was simply targeted because he is Muslim.
In fact, when Al-Turki was first arrested last year and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of forced labor, document servitude and harboring an illegal immigrant, the Saudi government posted $400,000 for his bail. Al-Turki’s wife was also indicted, but she cut a deal with prosecutors and returned to Saudi Arabia in exchange for avoiding jail time.
Al-Turki’s trial lasted 2 weeks and featured gripping testimony from his victim, a 24-year-old Indonesian woman who was brought to the U.S. by Al-Turki to be the family’s nanny and housekeeper. Instead, Al-Turki confiscated her passport, repeatedly raped her and failed to pay her salary of $150 a month.
At his sentencing hearing Al-Turki accused the federal government of targeting him simply because he is a Muslim and of fabricating evidence against him. He told the judge that prosecutors tricked the court into thinking that he is a terrorist and somehow linked the September 11 attacks to him in order to prejudice the jury. He added that if the U.S. cannot get a Muslim on terrorism, it will make things up and look for anything to convict.
Al-Turki is not the first Saudi to be convicted of slavery or viciously abusing servants in the United States. In 2001 a Saudi princess beat her maid and pushed her down a flight of stairs in Orlando and in 1995 another Saudi princess, the wife of the heir to the throne, beat her driver.
For some reason, Department of Homeland Security officials felt the need to launch an expensive public relations mission relating to Al-Turki. The government sent Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on a weeklong schmooze fest to Riyadh where his mission was to reassure King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan as well as Saudi journalists that Al-Turki was treated fairly in a U.S. court of law.
Perhaps the frantic appeasement mission on the part of U.S. officials has something to do with one blogger’s theory; why would these Arabs think it was wrong to have a slave? In the Middle East it still goes on today.
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