Marines in alleged rape remain held on base
November 18, 2007
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Four Marines remained in confinement here Friday despite a decision by Japanese authorities to not press charges for an alleged gang-rape.
There was mixed reaction Friday on the base and on the streets of Hiroshima to the decision Thursday by Japanese prosecutors to drop the case against the four Marines.
The men, who have been in U.S. custody at the air base since last month, remain in custody in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Maj. Guillermo Canedo, who declined to elaborate.
Also, a midnight curfew will remain in place indefinitely for all active-duty servicemembers at the air station, Canedo said.
“I do feel bad for them,” Lance Cpl. Tamarah Williams said. “For a lot of these people, their careers and personal lives are at stake.”
The allegations, even if proved untrue, also could damage the reputation of the Marine Corps, Williams said.
A Japanese woman told prefecture police the four Marines kidnapped and raped her in Hiroshima early in the morning of Oct. 14.
The Hiroshima prefecture prosecutor’s office confirmed Friday that the investigation in the incident was abandoned but declined to provide further information.
Johnny Shackelford, an Iwakuni air station contractor, said Japanese authorities are very thorough when investigating an alleged crime and must have found inconsistencies in the woman’s story.
“They don’t make mistakes very often,” he said.
People indicted by Japanese prosecutors face a 99 percent chance of conviction.
In the Nagarekawa arcade district in downtown Hiroshima, residents were divided over the prosecutor’s office decision not to indict.
“I disagree that the case was dropped,” said Yuka Ito, 22. “I thought, ‘Why?’”
Ito said the men most likely misbehaved and should have been prosecuted.
“I think the case was dropped because they were American servicemembers,” 21-year-old Akemi Edo said.
Hiroshima prefecture authorities questioned the Marines for several days this month in the presence of U.S. military officials and recommended they be indicted for abduction for the purpose of sexual assault, gang-rape and robbery.
Japan never sought arrest warrants for the Marines and they remained in U.S. custody. Police turned the case over to prosecutors last week.