Australian police are investigating whether sexual orientation may have been a factor in the death of two Saudi sisters found dead in their Sydney home, according to a report.
The decomposed bodies of Asra and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, aged 24 and 23, were found in their beds in separate rooms in their Canterbury apartment, in south-west Sydney, in June.
Police concluded that they had died a month earlier and, though there was no sign of a break-in or signs of injuries on their bodies, suspected foul play. After failing to make headway in the investigation, police appealed to the public for help last month.
Now a woman has come forward to say that she met the sisters at a queer event in January where they told her gay women “live in fear” in Saudi Arabia.
The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Guardian that: “They mentioned that they were from Saudi Arabia, and we talked about what it is like to be queer there. They said women live in fear of their safety and that they were grateful to be living in Australia, where they could more freely express themselves.”
The woman said police knew at least one of the sisters identified as queer.
“They did confirm to me that they knew one of the sisters was queer, but they weren’t sure about the other,” the woman said.
The sisters left their homeland as teenagers in 2017 and were reported to have lodged asylum applications in Australia.
Police have said their family in Saudi Arabia were assisting with enquiries.
But investigators believe their deaths were “not a random crime, according to an advertisement for their former apartment placed by a realtor seeking to reassure potential renters that there “will not be a potential risk for the community.”
An online ad said the apartment had been designated a crime scene and the mysterious deaths remained under police investigation.
“According to the police, this is not a random crime and will not be a potential risk for the community,” the ad said.
Police would not confirm or deny the realtor’s advice.
“As the investigation is ongoing, police continue to appeal for information in relation to the deaths of the two women,” a police statement said. “No further information is available at this stage.”