Officials at the http://www.saudiembassy.net/">Saudi Arabia consulate weren't aware that accused killer Abdulsalam S. Al-Zahrani was in the United States. They were also surprised to learn he is 46 years old.
Still, the government of Saudi Arabia will pay Al-Zahrani's legal fees.
"The embassy has no record of him here," said embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubair.
The Saudis became aware of Al-Zahrani after reading media accounts of his alleged crime.
Al-Zahrani is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death a week ago ofhttp://www2.binghamton.edu/index.html">Binghamton University anthropology professor emeritushttp://anthro.binghamton.edu/AntounR.html">Richard Antoun. Al-Zahrani, a cultural anthropology graduate student at BU, knew Antoun through his doctoral work within the department.
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While it isn't required, the Saudi Arabia consulate requests that students studying in the U.S. register with them. Approximately 25,000 Saudi nationals attend colleges and universities in the U.S., Al-Jubair said.
It's Saudi policy that citizens facing incarceration are supplied with an attorney, Al-Jubair said.
New York City lawyer http://fredericamiller.com/">Frederica L. Miller was retained Tuesday to represent Al-Zahrani, according to http://www.vestalny.com/department.aspx?dID=8">Vestal Town Court records.
Members of the consulate met with Al-Zahrani on Wednesday evening, Al-Jubair said.
Miller, whose private-practice office is on Broadway in Manhattan, said she would not comment on the case. The consulate had hired Miller for a previous case, so she was known to them, the embassy spokesman said.
The charge against Al-Zahrani is a far cry from the typical charges facing Saudi students in the U.S., Al-Jubair said. Usually it's an immigration issue or a misdemeanor.
"This is a very serious offense," he said. "That's quite rare."
The consulate is in touch with Al-Zahrani's family, including one relative who lives in the U.S., discussing the judicial process and keeping them abreast of court dates. The consulate would not identify the relative living in this country.
Al-Zahrani has been held, without bail, in the http://broomecounty.net/sheriff/corrections">Broome County Jail since his arraignment early Saturday morning.
The tragic events of Friday are hard to comprehend, Al-Jubair said.
"We would like to send our condolences to the family, Binghamton University and the community," he said.