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Court denies bail for Marine major for the third time

By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 19, 2003

NAHA, Okinawa — The third time wasn’t the charm for a Marine major being held in a Japanese jail for attempted rape.

A three-judge panel in Naha District Court denied Maj. Michael Brown’s third bid for bail Thursday, ruling he should remain in custody until his trial starts Feb. 13.

Brown was indicted Dec. 19 on charges of attempted rape and destroying private property in a Nov. 2 incident in Gushikawa. According to police, he accepted a ride home from a woman on Camp Courtney. Directing her to a deserted side road, police said, he allegedly attacked her.

The woman, a foreign national who has resided on Okinawa for more than 20 years and is married to an Okinawan, worked on the base. She told police she was able to fight off Brown’s advances.

She also said the major grabbed her cellular phone when she attempted to call police and threw it into a nearby stream.

But Brown, 39, assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Courtney, told police the woman became angry when he rejected her sexual advances and snatched his wallet. He said he threw her phone away in frustration and got out of her car.

Masayuki Akamine, Brown’s attorney, said he decided to take one more stab at obtaining bail from the district court before making an appeal to the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch. The previous bail requests were turned down by a single judge who said she feared Brown could destroy evidence if allowed to go free pending trial.

Akamine argued that holding Brown in solitary confinement in a Japanese detention center with only limited lawyer and family contact was like sentencing him prior to conviction and a means to wear him down for a confession.

“The court should carefully examine to see if there is substantial grounds for the defendant to engage in destroying evidence,” Akamine argued. “It would be nearly impossible, since the U.S. military has given assurance of controlling the defendant by confining him in the brig.”

Akamine said Japan’s bail system was antiquated and “behind the international standard.”

“The bail system under the Japanese system is a punitive law that should be improved to meet the world standard,” he said.

In the meantime, Brown’s family in the United States continues to maintain a Web site www.majorbrown.com in his support. But they claim they are being pressured to shut it down.

“Using a lawyer as his communications conduit, Major Brown advised that the prison officials had admonished him because he had been complaining via the Web page about the treatment he was receiving,” a Jan. 8 post on the Web page noted.

“Let’s make one thing clear: This Web page has been devised and maintained by the family of Major Brown,” it stated. “Unfortunately for Major Brown, he has no means of accessing the Web page. Every comment and opinion voiced on the page is that of his family.

“Also, the prison official’s concerns are unfounded,” the statement continued. “Major Brown has had nothing but praise for the treatment he has received while in prison. He is well treated, well fed and is allowed to have personal items and reading materials that make his stay bearable.”

The Web site urges people concerned about the case to contact their representative in Congress and the U.S. news media.

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.


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