Meflah and Chlela to appear in court for attempted child abduction
The Grand Jurors of Pulaski County recently indicted two foreign military officers for attempted child abduction and harassment, according to court documents.
The indictment accuses that 34-year-old Mohammed Mahmoud Omar Mefleh, of Jordan, and 31-year-old Antoine Chlela, of Lebanon, attempted to entice a 12-year old female into their vehicle for illicit purposes.
Grand Jury Indictments are a new tool for Pulaski County Prosecuting attorney, Kevin Hillman. According to Hillman, this tool is one that his office has only used for the past year. The grand jury replaces the probable cause portion of a preliminary hearing and is closed to the public.
Hillman said that he still uses preliminary hearings but chooses to present his case to a grand jury when it involves a minor as a victim or is a situation where it could be difficult for the victim to testify in front of the suspect. Hillman's job is to present evidence to the grand jury and then they decide if the case moves on or not.
According to reports from the Associated Press, the defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Both men were temporarily stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for military training purposes, according to Sheriff Long. Court documents state that Chlela resides on Lafeyette Road in Waynesville and Meflah resides on Triple Lane in St. Robert.
Sheriff deputies were called to the juvenile female's home on Oct.18 to investigate the incident.
The victim told police that she was waiting for her younger sister at the bus stop when two men approached her on several occasions in an attempt to lure her into their vehicle, allegedly asking for sexual favors. Court documents state that the men asked the victim to "get into a car to go to a party and have sex," and yelled at her to get into their vehicle.
After the victim ran into her home, according to the probable cause statement issued by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, the two men followed her to her home, banged on her door, and asked her if she "wanted to party," and told her to unlock the door. After the men left, the victim ran outside and found a fireman in her neighbor to whom she reported the incident to.
Responding deputies were able to locate the suspects and after investigating the matter, and arrested Mefleh and Chlela on Oct. 18. The probable cause statement said that both Mefleh and Chlela's stories changed several times during interviews.
Both are currently being held in the Pulaski County Jail with a $200,000 bond. Mefleh and Chlela could face up to 11 years in prison if convicted.
Both Mefleh and Chlela were both ordered to surrender their passports/ visas and were issued documents stating they can't have any contact with any child under the age of 18.
Meflah is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 26. and Chela is scheduled for a plea/ trial setting on Dec. 4.