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Man wanted in sexual assaults in Orange and San Diego counties is arrested in Austria

January 28, 2010 | 11:57 am

Rapist A man suspected of sexually assaulting three women in Southern California and then fleeing the country was arrested in Austria based on an international DNA search, authorities announced today.

Ali Achekzai, 32, formerly of Ladera Ranch, was one of the Orange County district attorney's “10 most wanted” fugitives.

Authorities believe Achekzai fled to Canada around the time he was tied -- by DNA evidence, witness accounts and a photo lineup -- to two rapes in San Diego and Orange counties.

He is believed to have traveled to several countries -- including Afghanistan, Germany, Canada, Austria and England -- and to have used at least six aliases.

Late last year, when a young detective with the Tustin Police Department was asked to pick up the case, Achekzai's DNA profile was sent to Interpol to see if it matched anything in that agency's international database, which authorities said covered nearly two dozen countries.

The search was done in December "on a hunch" that the suspect might have committed similar crimes while abroad, said Tustin police Det. Ryan Coe.

Interpol matched Achekzai's DNA to a sample taken when he was arrested in a rape under a different name in Austria in April 2009. The charges in that case had been dismissed.

Achekzai was arrested Jan. 26 at a hotel in the Austrian town of Neukirchen am Grossvenediger and was expected to be extradited to Orange County.

He is accused of raping a 21-year-old woman he followed home from a Laguna Beach night club in January 2004.

In May 2004, authorities said, Achekzai raped and beat a 21-year-old woman he met at a San Diego nightclub after they drove to a local park with a group of friends.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting a woman in October 2002 after she fell asleep in a limousine on the way home from a Laguna Beach nightclub.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of more than 53 years in prison.

-- Paloma Esquivel in Orange County

Photo: April 2009 booking photo of Ali Achekzai formerly of Ladera Ranch.  Credit: Orange County district attorney's office.

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