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O.C. rape suspect tracked down in Austria

January 28, 2010 12:04:50 AM PST
A man suspected in a series of sexual assaults in Orange County, San Diego County and overseas has been arrested in Austria.Ali Achekzai, 32, formerly of Ladera Ranch, was featured on the Orange County District Attorney's Ten Most Wanted list.

The first alleged incident occurred in Oct. 26, 2002. Police say it happened in a limousine after a night of partying at a nightclub in Laguna Beach. Police say Achekzai threatened and raped the 24-year-old victim while her friend was asleep in the limo.

The second incident happened on January 31, 2004. Police say Achekzai met his 21-year-old victim at a restaurant in Tustin. He then followed her car until he allegedly got her to pull over, dragged her to his vehicle and raped her.

"The victim became scared, got out of her car and attempted to run away," said Tustin Police Chief Scott Jordan. "However, Achekzai caught her and forcibly raped her. She reported the crime to the Tustin Police Department, and detectives obtained her clothing and submitted it to the Orange County Crime Lab for forensic testing."

Four months later, police say, Achekzai used a similar MO to attack another 21-year-old woman. Detectives say he and his cousin met the victim and her friends at a nightclub in San Diego. They took them to Mount Soledad, where police say Achekzai isolated the victim from her friends, attacked her and raped her.

Investigators matched the DNA in the last two cases. That's when a $500,000 warrant was issued for his arrest. That warrant was later increased to $1 million.

Authorities say Achekzai went on to flee the country and changed his identity several times. They say he lived in Afghanistan, Germany, San Francisco, Canada, Austria, and England. With the cooperation of local, federal and international agencies, authorities submitted Achekzai's DNA to the international police agency, INTERPOL.

It wasn't until January 26 that Achekzai was arrested in Salzburg, Austria after authorities got a DNA match with another rape case from April 2009.

Achekzai will now face extradition proceedings. He is charged with two felony counts of forcible rape, one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, one felony count of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for committing sexual crimes against more than one victim and causing great bodily injury to a victim.

If convicted, Achekzai faces a maximum sentence of 53 years and four months to life in state prison. Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact TPD Detective Ryan Coe at (714) 573-3249 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Clint McCall at (714) 347-8521.

"The victims, although they will have to live with the memories of the horrendous crimes perpetrated against them, may take some comfort in the fact that this individual will not have the opportunity to offend again," said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

"With the technology of DNA and the coordination of information globally through computers, you can run, but you can't hide," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

To see the full list of the OCDA's 10 most wanted fugitives, as well as former "most wanted" fugitives who have been captured, visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the "10 Most Wanted" icon on the homepage.