Algerian gets 10 years in US rape case

2012-06-08 14:15

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New York- An Algerian-born businessman with ties to Saudi royalty was sentenced to a decade in prison after being convicted of raping a woman in a plush New York hotel room.

Mustapha Ouanes, who was arrested while staying at the Plaza Hotel as part of a Saudi prince's entourage, didn't speak at his Thursday sentencing, though he presented a raft of letters from supporters and testimony from a cardiologist who said prison was a risk to his health.

The married, 61-year-old Ouanes called the February 2010 encounter a consensual liaison that turned ugly. But prosecutors said he victimised a woman who couldn't fight him off after a night of drinking. Jurors convicted him in February of rape and other charges.

"The defendant sexually assaulted a young woman who was in a helpless and vulnerable state," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr said in a statement on Thursday.

Ouanes met the woman and a friend of hers in a bar. He invited them to his hotel room for breakfast. Both prosecutors and the defence said Ouanes, who is a Canadian citizen, was travelling with the prince, but the royal was never identified.

As Ouanes and the women strolled into the hotel together with his arm around the shoulders of one of them, "I thought it might be my lucky day," he testified at his trial.

But after a Champagne breakfast, the women got into the bed, clothed, and passed out, according to prosecutors. Ouanes joined them in bed. He said he was trying to get to sleep, but one of the women said she awoke to find him having sex with her.

Ouanes intends to appeal his conviction, his lawyer, Aaron Mysliwiec, said.

Mysliwiec urged a judge to give Ouanes the minimum five-year sentence, noting his age, heart trouble and efforts over the years to help his extended family, including paying for a niece's surgery.

"He's someone who came from very humble beginnings ... and managed to string together quite a strong career and provide for all the family members who came from those same humble beginnings," Mysliwiec said after court.

Ouanes had faced the possibility of up to 25 years in prison.

- SAPA
Read more on:    algeria  |  us  |  north africa
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