Las Vegas - Despite a defense attorney's complaints, a judge in Nevada set bail at $1.22 million Friday for a Saudi Arabia air force sergeant jailed since New Year's Eve after he was accused of pulling a 13-year-old boy into a Las Vegas Strip hotel room and raping him.
Defense attorney Don Chairez said his client, Mazen Alotaibi, “probably” could post what Chairez called the “extraordinarily high” bail, surrender his diplomatic passport and be freed pending an evidentiary hearing January 31.
But Chairez said he'd recommend to Saudi authorities the 23-year-old aircraft mechanic remain in jail until a January 31 evidentiary hearing. The money would be better spent investigating the charges and preparing Alotaibi's defense, Chairez said.
He alleged outside court that his client was treated unfairly by police because he was too drunk on cognac Dec. 31 to surrender his right to have a lawyer present during questioning.
“Somebody who's under the influence cannot give up his right to an attorney,” Chairez contended.
Alotaibi stood in court with an Arabic language interpreter and said nothing while Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Bill Kephart called the allegations against him “appalling.” The judge noted that if Alotaibi fled the country, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia do not have an extradition treaty to bring him back.
“I don't know the truth of either side here,” said Kephart, who will make the decision whether to move the case to state court if there is enough evidence for trial. The judge noted that Alotaibi faces “substantial consequences” if convicted.
Alotaibi is accused of forcing the boy into a Circus Circus hotel room where as many as four other Saudi officers smoked cigarettes or marijuana the morning before a New Year's Eve fireworks celebration on the Las Vegas Strip.
Prosecutor Mary Kay Holthus said Alotaibi acknowledged during police questioning that he had sex with the boy, who Holthus said was accosted by Alotaibi while headed to meet a friend and go to a doughnut shop at 7:30 a.m.
The prosecutor said that even if the boy sought sex, Nevada state law says a child under age 16 cannot give consent.
“I don't see that this is just, 'No big deal. Get drunk and have fun,'“ Holthus said. “The likelihood of conviction is tremendous.”
Chairez told the judge the boy wanted marijuana and refused repeated attempts by the Saudi men to get him to leave their hotel room.
“I do not believe there was any force here,” Chairez said. “This is not a forcible rape. At most, if there was any sexual contact, it was consensual.”
Saudi Arabian information official Nail Al-Jubeir in Washington referred questions about Alotaibi's case to Chairez.
Police reported collecting DNA evidence, a used condom and soiled towel from the bathroom where the boy said the attack took place. The boy lives out of state and had been staying at the hotel with his family, police said.
Chairez has said Alotaibi will plead not guilty to all charges.
Prosecutors added two lesser charges Friday alleging lewdness with a minor to the kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor, coercion and burglary charges that could put Alotaibi in prison for life if he is convicted. - Sapa-AP