DUBLIN (KPIX 5) — An accused child molester, Walid Hamze, could be the latest high-profile suspect to get out of jail in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hamze has been in custody at Santa Rita Jail for a year on multiple charges of child molestation. His attorneys are scheduled to argue in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon Friday that he should have his bail reduced, according to prosecutors.
Hamze is accused of sexually molesting multiple victims between the ages of six and 12. His bail is currently set at $20 million. Both city leaders and law enforcement on Tuesday announced their opposition to his possible release, saying Hamze poses a serious safety risk to the public.
“We are absolutely opposed to letting somebody like that out of jail,” said Dublin Mayor David Haubert. “This happened before and the mayors of the Tri-Valley have all written letters in opposition of the actions. We are opposed to zero bail, we are opposed to early release, and we’d like to send a message to the people who have these decisions to make.”
“It’s just unconscionable you’re going to let somebody out like that who has victimized children,” said Dublin Police Chief Garrett Holmes.
Holmes said Hamze is facing life in prison and if his bail is reduced, he could be a flight risk and never be brought to justice.
“His families more than well-off and if you post the million dollars bail and our concern is, he’s from another country and when we arrested him he had different passports, one U.S. passport and one from a foreign country, said Holmes. “Our concern is that he’s going to flee the country.”
At the time of the arrest Hamze lived near one of the elementary schools in Dublin. Since then, both his family and the victims have moved to another city, said Holmes.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office told KPIX 5 it strongly objected to any change in Hamze’s status and believed he should be held without bail.
Last month, Judge Reardon also released Gregory Vien, a Livermore man being held on $2.5 million bail for allegedly committing a pair of 1997 East Bay rapes, on his own recognizance from Santa Rita Jail, in another ruling that prompted an outcry from prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. The cold case that wasn’t solved until last year.
Reardon issued the ruling after defense attorneys argued for a bail reduction over Vien’s health issues, which made it unsafe for him to remain jailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in this month, Oakland Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena was released from Santa Rita Jail after his bail was reduced because of the pandemic. Almena faces a second trial later this year in the 2016 fire that killed 36 people after the first one ended with a deadlocked jury.