YOKOSUKA, Japan — The family of a Japanese woman who was beaten to death by a USS Kitty Hawk sailor in 2006 wants the commander of U.S. naval forces in Japan to testify in a civil trial.

Attorneys for the family of Yoshie Sato said Wednesday that bringing Rear Adm. James Kelly to court is necessary because the imprisoned sailor, Seaman William Oliver Reese, could not answer questions about education and discipline of sailors.

Attorneys said Reese told them Wednesday at the prison that he never received training about proper conduct in another country nor was he told about crimes committed by U.S. servicemembers that had occurred before he killed Sato. Sato’s family is seeking 200 million yen ($1.6 million) in compensation from the Japanese government and Reese. They also claim the U.S. Navy could have prevented the incident. Reese also could not identify who his Navy supervisor had been, which is why, attorneys said, they have to bring Kelly into the courtroom.

“Without knowing who his boss is, we have no choice but to call Kelly to testify,” attorney Shinsuke Nakamura said.

The court is expected to decide whether to ask Kelly to appear in court before the July 2 hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Yokohama District Court.

“It’s ongoing litigation, so it would be inappropriate to comment right now,” said Cmdr. David Waterman, spokesman for Commander Naval Forces Japan. “We’re standing by to hear the decision of the judge.”

Reese was convicted of fatally beating Sato and taking 15,000 yen (about $130 at the time) from her purse. He was sentenced to life in prison June 2, 2006.

Stars and Stripes reporter Allison Batdorff contributed to this report.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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