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HUMAN RIGHTS -
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Indictment: Saudi Pair in Colo. Kept Slave

Posted in the database on Saturday, June 11th, 2005 @ 14:36:07 MST (1583 views)
by MELISSA TRUJILLO    Associated Press  

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A Saudi Arabian couple was in custody Friday, accused of turning a young Indonesian woman into a virtual slave, forcing her to clean, cook and care for their children while she was threatened and sexually assaulted.

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Homaidan Al-Turki, 36, and his wife, Sarah Khonaizan, 35, on charges of forced labor, document servitude and harboring an illegal immigrant.

Al-Turki also faces state charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion, as well as 12 charges of sexual assault. His wife faces some of the same charges. The two could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Phone messages left Friday for their individual lawyers were not immediately returned.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner said the Indonesian woman, who is in her 20s, came to the United States with the couple legally to perform domestic chores. But her U.S. visa was hidden from her by Al-Turki and Khonaizan, according to Thursday's indictment.

The woman was controlled by "a climate of fear and intimidation" that included sexual abuse and the belief that she would "suffer serious harm" if she did not perform her tasks, the indictment said.

The woman is believed to have lived with the couple from 2000 until November 2004, according to authorities. Dorschner said she is not in custody.

Authorities said the couple owed the woman nearly $93,000 in unpaid wages.

A neighbor, Vicki Lisman, said she believed the couple has four children — three young girls and a teenage boy. In the summer, the mother and children would go to Saudi Arabia while the father stayed in Colorado, she said.

Lisman said she had no idea another woman lived with the family.

"There was certainly a sense of normalcy with the house and the family," she said.

Al-Turki worked at Al-Basheer Publications and Translation in Denver. No one answered the company's phone Friday.



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