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SEOUL — A civic group visited the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday to demand that South Korean prosecutors seek jurisdiction in a fatal accident involving a U.S. soldier.

Members of Association Formed for Preventing the Crimes Committed by USFK want South Korean prosecutors to demand the right to try 19-year-old Pfc. Jeff Bryant, said spokeswoman Lee So-hee.

Bryant was driving a 2.5-ton military vehicle in Dongducheon city June 10 when the vehicle struck and killed 51-year-old Kim Myung-ja.

Korean police, who say Kim was jaywalking at the time of the accident, forwarded charges of “duty-related accidental homicide” to the Uijongbu city prosecutor’s office in late June.

In early July, U.S. Forces Korea officials provided the prosecutors with an “official duty certificate,” which declares that Bryant was on duty at the time of the accident.

Under the U.S.-South Korean status of forces agreement, the U.S. military adjudicates when U.S. troops are accused of crimes committed while on duty.

Prosecutors have until July 26 to request a waiver of the USFK right of jurisdiction, according to USFK officials.

The civic group spokeswoman said she delivered about 570 signatures of South Koreans who support her group’s cause.

She said she doubts a “fair and full” trial, judgment and punishment are possible if a U.S. judge and jury hear the case during a military court-martial.

Lee compared this case to the two South Korean teens crushed by a military vehicle in 2002. Two U.S. soldiers were found innocent of negligent homicide charges in that case, sparking massive violent protests.

Kwon Jung-hoon of the Justice Ministry declined to comment when contacted Thursday afternoon.


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