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Saudi airman convicted in rape of boy in Las Vegas seeks new trial

(Reuters) - Attorneys for a Saudi Air Force sergeant convicted last year in the rape of a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas hotel have asked the judge for a new trial, saying that a key witness has recanted his trial testimony.

A Clark County District Court jury last October found 25-year-old Mazen Alotaibi guilty of kidnapping, burglary, coercion and sexual assault on a minor in the New Year's Eve, 2012 attack.

Prosecutors say Alotaibi, who was visiting Las Vegas while temporarily stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, lured the boy to a room at the Circus Circus hotel and sexually assaulted him.

In a motion for a new trial filed last week, defense lawyers said that a man who told the court at trial that Alotaibi was sober enough to drive him from a strip club to the hotel had recanted his testimony and now asserts that he was far too drunk to have done so.

The issue goes to the heart of a defense contention that Alotaibi was so intoxicated that he could not have the specific intent to commit the crimes as required under the law.

Defense lawyers asked that if Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley did not grant Alotaibi a new trial over the issue based on their motion, she grant them an evidentiary hearing to further explore the matter.

Miley postponed Alotaibi's sentencing, which had been set for Wednesday, while she considered the matter and scheduled a hearing for later this month. He faces a minimum of 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the motion when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb)

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