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Saudi slaveholding couple pleads not guilty in Denver -Student and Islamist bookseller tied to terrorism

March 14, 2006

Feds: Housekeeper paid $2 a day

State, federal charges allege kidnapping, forced labor

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) -- A Saudi couple pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges including kidnapping and sexual assault stemming from claims that they held an Indonesian woman who worked for them as a virtual slave.

Arapahoe County District Judge Marilyn Antrim scheduled a June 13 trial for the couple after denying a defense motion seeking separate trials.

Homaidan Al-Turki, 37, and his wife, Sarah Khonaizan, face up to life in prison if convicted on the state charges.

Al-Turki is charged with kidnapping, 12 counts of sexual assault, extortion and false imprisonment, while Khonaizan is charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion.

The two also face an April 24 trial on federal charges of forced labor, involuntary servitude and harboring an illegal immigrant.

A federal indictment released last year said the Indonesian woman was allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulted by Al-Turki and was paid less than the equivalent of $2 a day over four years to cook, clean and care for the couple's five children.

It also said she was sometimes loaned out to work for other families when her host family traveled.

Court documents said the woman told investigators she worked seven days a week with no regular days off from 2000 to 2004 while living in suburban Aurora.

The Labor Department has sued the couple, saying they owe the woman about $62,500 in unpaid wages.

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