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Deaths of sisters in Sydney apartment "not a random crime," realtor says

The Sydney apartment where the bodies of two Saudi sisters were found in June is back on the rental market with a real estate ad advising their deaths were "not a random crime and will not be a potential risk for the community."

Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and her 23-year-old sister, Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, were found dead June 7 in separate bedrooms of the apartment in the southwest suburb of Canterbury.

Asra Abdullah Alsehli (left) and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli New South Wales Police

Police believe they died in early May. The decomposed state of their remains complicated the task of determining the causes of death.

The first-floor Canterbury Road apartment was open for inspection on Monday with rent set at 520 Australian dollars ($362) a week. That is AU$40 ($28) more than the sisters were charged.

An online ad said the apartment had been designated a crime scene and the mysterious deaths remained under police investigation.

"According to the police, this is not a random crime and will not be a potential risk for the community," the ad said.

But police would not confirm or deny the realtor's advice.

"As the investigation is ongoing, police continue to appeal for information in relation to the deaths of the two women," a police statement said. "No further information is available at this stage."

Police released the sisters' names and photographs last week in an appeal for more public information about how they died, but investigators have remained tight-lipped about many details, including how the sisters came to Australia as teenagers in 2017, their visa status and how they earned money.

"Detectives are interested in speaking with anyone who may have seen or who may have information about the women's movements in the days and weeks prior to their deaths – which we believe occurred in early May," Detective Inspector Claudia Allcroft  said.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the case said the sisters had been seeking asylum in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. They had worked for a time as traffic controllers, a common job for backpackers and new immigrants. They drove a luxury BMW 5 Series coupe, the newspaper reported.

Police Detective Inspector Claudia Allcroft said their family in Saudi Arabia was cooperating with police and there was "nothing to suggest" that they were suspects.

She described the decomposition of the bodies as "problematic." Police last week had yet to see the results of toxicology tests.

There was no evidence of forced entry to the apartment, where the sisters kept to themselves, Allcroft said.

"The deaths are suspicious in nature as we don't know the cause of death," Allcroft said.

"The girls were 23 and 24 years old and they have died together in their home. We don't know the cause of death, it's unusual because of their age and the nature of the matter," Allcroft added.

The sisters seemed fearful and suspicious that food delivered to their apartment had been tampered with, unidentified associates told Sydney media.

An unidentified senior police source told Sydney's The Daily Telegraph: "It really does appear to be a tragic suicide."

The sisters were able to show "significant savings" in a bank account when they applied to lease their apartment, property manager Jay Hu told the newspaper, but they had stopped paying rent early this year.

"They had always paid on time before then. ... They were good tenants," Hu told the newspaper.

The overseas-based landlord had begun legal action to recoup the unpaid rent before the sisters' bodies were found, Hu said.

The real estate ad said the apartment's bedrooms both had new flooring.

Last week, Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communications at Saudi human rights organization ALQST, told the BBC it was possible the sisters were killed abroad after fleeing domestic violence.

"There are no protections for women who are victims of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, so they flee abroad," she told the BBC.

She added: "I'm not saying that is the case here, just that we need a thorough investigation. It is frustrating not to have any information."

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