Okinawan Police will not arrest the U.S. serviceman who trespassed and assaulted a teenage boy in Yomitan

November 6, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

Kadena Police have identified a member of the U.S. military as the suspect in the case of trespassing and assault of a junior high school student in Yomitan on November 2. Police officers spoke to the 24 year-old man stationed at Kadena Air Base after he agreed to be questioned. Although the man said that he remembered going to the bar on the first floor of the building, he did not admit to the other acts, stating that he was too drunk at the time to remember what happened after he got there. The police don’t intend to arrest the man nor request that he be handed over by the American authorities because he is in U.S. military custody, and is not suspected of running away or destroying evidence. In addition, the incident does not fall under the category of a heinous crime. If it did, in keeping with the amended approach to application of the Status of Forces Agreement, the Okinawan police would be able request the handing over of the suspect prior to indictment.

The police will continue questioning the man as long as he agrees to meet them, and as soon as charges are confirmed, they will submit a report regarding his being suspected of trespass, assault and damage to property. They also plan to seize the clothes the man was wearing at the time of the incident. Unless a suspect is badly injured, the police would very likely arrest a person suspected of committing this type of crime. If he were not a member of the U.S. military in Okinawa they would be able to arrest the man after his recovery as a result of the confirmation of his being the suspect. A police spokesperson stated, “The U.S. military is cooperating with our investigations into this case, and the man is answering our questions.” Be that as it may, the Okinawan people strongly oppose the police stance of not intending to arrest the man after his recovery, and not to request that he be handed over.

It seems that the man said that he lived outside of the base, and had been drinking at the bar before the incident, and then went drinking at a number of other establishments. He went back to the bar alone and drank beer and whisky. According to investigators, the man stated that he would like to apologize if the allegations are true, and that he wants to remember what happened. The police spokesperson reported that the man appeared to know about the nighttime curfew. It is reported that investigators questioned the man about the incident at a police facility.

The police confirmed that the man acknowledged that he went to the bar on the first floor of the building in question. The statements of the victim, witnesses and the situation in which the man was found at the scene, enabled investigators to confirm him as the suspect because there were no other foreigners in the building when the incident occurred. His physical appearance and clothes also matched what the victim and witnesses described. The man suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung in the fall, but it is reported that he has recovered to the extent of being able to slowly walk and be capable of answering questions. The man is scheduled to be asked further questions on November 6 and to receive medical treatment again on November 7.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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