Trial and Tribulations

Naim Amini fled Afghanistan to build a new life, a life now lost in the translation.

Mariam has fond memories of the days her family was living in India, when she was young and her mother was still alive. "It was a tiny apartment, but we were so much happier then," she says. "The family was all there. Now, in Highlands Ranch, yes, we have a big house, but it feels like an empty house."

Naim Amini has been in prison for nearly two years now. Mariam and her brothers visit him every other Sunday. Not Laila, though. Now twelve years old, she hasn't seen her father since the day he was convicted. She's not allowed to see him. Because he was found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor, Amini is prohibited from contact with minors, including his own daughter, even in a supervised prison visiting room.

Heartfelt appeal: Attorney Paul Grant has requested a new trial for Naim Amini -- a trial he'd understand.
John Johnston
Heartfelt appeal: Attorney Paul Grant has requested a new trial for Naim Amini -- a trial he'd understand.

Mariam has memorized her father's earliest possible release date: "April 13, 2005." To be paroled that early, Amini would have to continue to earn good-behavior credits, and he would have to successfully complete a course of treatment classes for sexual offenders. There is a catch, however: To complete the courses, he has to know English.

Unless his conviction is overturned, whenever Amini is released, there is a good chance the Immigration and Naturalization Service will deport him to Afghanistan, where he still believes he will be swiftly killed.

On December 3, three judges will hear Amini's appeal for a new trial. (Judge Lawrence passed away last month.)

"I have to win this appeal," says Grant. "Mr. Amini has to win this appeal."

Until then, Amini will remain in prison. The only good thing he can say about life there is that he likes the art classes. He's been painting a lot, landscapes and animals mostly. He hopes he can go back to work at King Soopers someday. This time, though, he wants to work in the bakery. "I want to decorate cakes," he says. "I want to be with my family again, and I want to decorate cakes."

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