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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A Japanese court has ordered a former Yokosuka Naval Base civilian employee convicted in the death of a Japanese man in 2006 to pay 13.7 million yen (about $178,000) in damages to the victim’s relatives.

The Yokohama District Court on Thursday ordered Robert Burns Nolan, 59, to compensate the family for the death of a 70-year-old man he tussled with outside a Yokosuka bar, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Shinohara Yoshihito. Nolan, formerly a GS-14 who worked as a personnel management officer at Yokosuka, was found guilty in 2008 of “bodily injury resulting in death” after he pushed Katsumi Nakagawa onto the pavement outside Live Bar Buzz.

Nolan received a three-year sentence in a Japanese prison, but the sentence was suspended for five years. Under a suspended sentence, a person convicted of the crime does not have to serve the prison term if he or she does not commit another crime for the length of the suspended sentence.

Nolan’s attorney declined to comment on Thursday’s court decision, but did say Nolan was now in the United States.

The plaintiffs had demanded that Nolan and the Japanese government jointly pay 26 million yen, nearly twice as much as the court-ordered amount.

The family members sued the Japanese government because under the Special Civil Act they were not allowed to sue the U.S. military. The judge, however, ruled that Nolan’s actions were not related to his official duties and, thus, the Japanese government could not be held responsible.

Yoshihito argued in court that even though Nolan was off duty at the time of the incident, around 6:30 p.m., he had left work about an hour early to go to the bar. Once there, he began drinking, Yoshihito said, which was a work-time violation and, thus, involved lax supervision by the U.S. military.

Yoshihito said his clients would have to wait to see if the decision is appealed to a higher court before taking steps toward recovering any money.

“We don’t know where Nolan is and his attorney won’t reveal his location,” Yoshihito told Stars and Stripes. “It could take years before they could start collecting.”

From staff reports


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