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Okinawa airman given suspended sentence for trespassing, punching teen

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A U.S. airman who pleaded guilty to drunkenly barging into an Okinawa apartment and punching a teen in the face was given a one-year suspended sentence by a Japanese court Wednesday.

The Naha district court suspended the sentence of Senior Airman Matthew L. Haist, 24, who is stationed at Kadena Air Base, for three years.

Haist pleaded guilty last month to charges of inflicting bodily injury and vandalism for the incident northwest of the base in the island’s Yomitan district. He had apologized and asked during his trial that he only be fined. The guilty verdict Wednesday means he could face jail time if he breaks Japanese law again within three years.

The home invasion was among a string of U.S. military off-base crimes in Japan that followed the imposition of a countywide overnight curfew, sparked by the October gang rape of an Okinawan woman for which two U.S. sailors have been sentenced to prison.

Haist was drinking heavily in a bar near his home on Nov. 2 in violation of the curfew. He entered an upstairs apartment in the building and hit the sleeping teen, damaged a television and then fell from a third-floor window.

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