Japan issues warrant for Okinawa Marine
Stars and Stripes June 18, 2003
NAHA, Okinawa — An arrest warrant was issued Monday for a Camp Hansen Marine accused of raping and injuring a Japanese woman, clearing the way for a possible transfer to Japanese custody as early as this week.
Police on Monday obtained an arrest warrant for Lance Cpl. Jose Torres, 21, who allegedly hit the woman in the face and raped her around 3:15 a.m. May 25 in Kin, near Camp Hansen.
A spokesman from the Okinawa police urged the military to release the Marine to Japanese custody.
Police say Torres broke the woman’s nose when he struck her. The injuries she sustained will require three weeks of medical treatment, said Tatsuji Yamanoha, spokesman and chief investigator for Okinawa prefectural police, during a press conference Monday.
“Through investigation, we were convinced that this is a case of serious felony, which is subject to early custody transfer,” Yamanoha said.
Servicemembers routinely are held in military custody until indictments are issued, but special provisions were made to the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan following a 1995 rape of a 12-year-old girl.
In the agreement, authorities agree to special consideration in handing over suspects in heinous crimes, including rape, prior to indictment.
Okinawa police have appeared cautious about ensuring the woman intended to pursue criminal charges against Torres.
In an ongoing and separate attempted rape case involving Marine Maj. Michael Brown, a former cashier at Camp Courtney Officers’ Club, Victoria Nakamine, testified to his innocence in court, despite the initial charge, alleging police and others pressed her to pursue charges. Brown’s trial is still ongoing.
Unlike Brown’s case, however, police could pursue the assault charge against Torres because physical injuries allegedly were involved.
“We firmly believe that she has strong desire of pressing charges against the suspect,” the spokesman said. He said she gave the police a formal complaint May 25, the day of the incident.
Meanwhile, the arrest warrant prompted Marine Lt. Gen. Wallace C. Gregson, Okinawa area coordinator and commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, to visit Gov. Keiichi Inamine to express his regrets concerning the incident.
Inamine also expressed regret and concern over the incident during the meeting. He said the allegations are bringing tensions to a slow simmer, but warned they could boil over.