CENTENNIAL—An Arapahoe County judge is weighing whether to allow convicted sex-offender Homaidan al-Turki to return to his home in Saudi Arabia as his supporters step up international pressure for his release.
Arapahoe County District Judge J. Mark Hannen said Friday he expects to rule on al-Turki’s request within the next 60 days.
Meanwhile, thousands of commenters ramped up their social-media blitz after Friday’s hearing in Arapahoe County Court, making the hashtag “#colorado_free_alturki” the second-highest trending topic on Twitter at one point over the weekend.
The Tweets, written in both Arabic and English, repeated messages like, “He needs his family and his family need [sic] him” and “Free Mr. alturki, his children are waiting for him.”
Photos include shots of al-Turki hugging his young daughter and Saudi schoolchildren holding up pro-Turki signs.
“America only proves more to the Muslim world how unjust she behaves towards Muslims,” said a Tweet sent Saturday.
On the other side are Arapahoe County prosecutors fighting to keep al-Turki behind bars in Colorado. The Denver Post editorial page weighed in Saturday in favor of rejecting al-Turki’s latest bid for release.
“Saudi sex offender should stay in Colo.,” said the editorial’s headline.
A member of a wealthy Muslim family, al-Turki has pushed repeatedly to be deported home since his conviction in 2006 for keeping his Indonesian housekeeper as a sex slave at his home in suburban Aurora for four years.
Al-Turki maintains his innocence and says his conviction was rooted in anti-Muslim sentiment.
His attorneys—including Hal Haddon, who represented Kobe Bryant in the 2003 sexual-assault case in Eagle, Colo., that was ultimately dismissed–argue that he has served the minimum of his sentence of eight years to life, and should be permitted to serve probation in Saudi Arabia.
Prosecutors argue that he hasn’t been a model prisoner. A parole board rejected his request for release earlier this year in part because he has refused to enter the mandatory sex-offender treatment program.
“He refuses to participate in the program, he refuses to acknowledge wrongdoing,” said Brauchler.
There’s also the unresolved issue of whether al-Turki was involved in the death of Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, who was killed March 19 at his Monument home by recently released inmate Evan Ebel.
DOC assistant director Angel Medina acknowledged in testimony Friday that al-Turki is under investigation, but that no misconduct has been found, according to the Associated Press.
Prosecutor Ann Tomsic argued that al-Turki, who has been transferred temporarily to federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., should remain stateside in case investigators discover a link to the Clements murder.
Saudi embassy official Fahed al-Rawaf testified last week that that al-Turki would receive more appropriate treatment near his family and in an environment in sync with Islamic culture. He said Saudi Arabia would honor any conditions imposed on the transfer.
But prosecutors worry that deporting al-Turki would essentially give him a get-out-of-jail-free card, given that his offenses are viewed in Saudi Arabia as less severe and may not even be considered criminal.
In 2000, Al-Turki brought an 18-year-old Indonesian woman to cook and clean for his family, including his wife and five children. For four years, al-Turki held her against her will by refusing to return her passport and eventually subjected her to sexual abuse.