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Saudi air force sergeant to be tried in sexual assault on boy in Las Vegas hotel

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 9:58 p.m.

LAS VEGAS — A Saudi Arabia air force sergeant was ordered on Thursday to stand trial for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy on New Year's Eve in a Las Vegas Strip hotel room.

A defense attorney for 23-year-old Mazen Alotaibi and a Saudi consulate legal attache huddled with prosecutors for two hours before Alotaibi waived his right to a preliminary hearing of evidence against him.

The move meant the boy and a police detective who prosecutors said were ready to testify did not have to take the stand.

Defense attorney Don Chairez conceded the testimony probably would have met what he termed the minimal standard to show a felony had been committed, allowing the judge to move the case to state court.

“A preliminary hearing is basically a rubber stamp process,” Chairez said.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Bill Kephart asked Alotaibi if he understood what was happening. Standing with an Arabic translator, Alotaibi responded “yes” in English.

Chairez and Saudi Arabia consulate legal affairs official Abdulqader Mohammed Al Hazza said outside the courtroom that evidence was still being collected. Negotiations were under way to resolve the case, Chairez said.

“Both governments are looking for the truth,” Al Hazza said. “We just need time to bring the evidence together to show the truth.”

Chairez said he hopes tests on blood samples drawn after Alotaibi's arrest will show the aircraft mechanic was too drunk at the time to give up his constitutional right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

Chairez said police did not provide Alotaibi with a translator during questioning, even though Alotaibi told detectives several times during his 70-minute interview that he didn't understand what was happening.

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