Algerian teen falls to death in Mecca; rape, murder suspected

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rape and murder are suspected after a 15-year-old girl fell to her death from a hotel in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Police yesterday announced that they have arrested four men over her death, suspecting that she fell from her balcony after she was either pushed or jumped trying to escape being raped.

The young woman had arrived in Mecca from her home in Marseille, France to undertake the pilgrimage of Umrah. She was staying in Al-Ghazzah District's Al-Muhajireen Hotel, which is close to the Masjid al-Haram (or "Grand Mosque"), along with her Algerian mother, French father and seven-year-old brother.

She landed on the roof of a neighbouring hotel, where she struck and slightly injured two Bangladeshi men working there. She had been missing since 9 p.m. local time on Tuesday, and was due to leave on Wednesday morning, when she died. Following the death, around 300 fellow Algerian Muslim pilgrims closed down the road past the hotel in protest, seeking an audience with their ambassador and prosecutions for the suspected offences.

Mecca Police director Brigadier General Ibrahim Al-Hamzi sent security teams to negotiate with the crowds. After three hours, the road was reopened. Police spokesman Major Abdul Mohsin Al-Maiman says criminal investigators and a forensics expert have examined the body and four workers at the Al-Muhajireen Hotel have been arrested; two Yemeni men and two Bangladeshi men.

The Saudi Gazette reports on anonymous sources claiming that the Yemenis should not have been in the country and were working illegaly. The Gazette also reported on allegations that one suspect has admitted entering a relationship with the girl, but not the source of this information. The suspects were transported to Al-Qararah Police Station for interrogation and the General Prosecution and Investigation Board is expected to take over the case.

The body is awaiting detailed examination at the morgue of King Faisal Hospital in Al-Shisha. A coronor's preliminary findings indicated she had suffered multiple fractures. Initial medical reports support rape prior to her death shortly after midnight. Al-Maiman says she died on impact.