Saudi student incompetent to stand trial

BINGHAMTON, N.Y., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A judge Tuesday ruled a State University of New York graduate student accused of killing a professor is mentally incompetent.

Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, was committed to a state psychiatric facility, the (Binghamton) Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. His trial had been scheduled to start Tuesday in Binghamton.


Richard Antoun, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, was stabbed in a campus building Dec. 4, 2009. Zahrani, a graduate student in anthropology, was arrested and charged the next day.

The Saudi Embassy has been paying Zahrani's legal expenses, standard procedure for the country when one of its nationals is charged with a crime abroad.

Broome County Judge Joseph Cawley Jr. signed an order Tuesday requiring him to be held until he becomes competent. Psychiatrists who examined Zahrani determined he is not competent to understand the proceedings.

Reports also suggested Zahrani was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

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