Okinawa assembly wants soldier in local custody
NAHA, Okinawa — The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution calling for the U.S. military to hand over prior to indictment a soldier suspected in a fatal hit-and-run Nov. 7.
However, Okinawa police have not officially informed the Army that the soldier is a suspect and have not asked for custody. The assembly’s action is nonbinding.
Police have asked to question the 27-year-old staff sergeant, but he has refused after three initial sessions, claiming a statement he gave them during initial questioning was mistranslated.
In its request for "sincere cooperation" from the military, which was addressed to senior U.S. officials in Japan, the assembly also called for a change in the status of forces agreement, which allows for the U.S. military to retain custody prior to indictment of any servicemember not arrested by Japanese police off base.
The soldier, who lives in Yomitan, has been restricted to Torii Station pending the outcome of the investigation into the accident, in which a 66-year-old Okinawa man was found with his neck broken, lying in bushes by the side of a village road after apparently being struck by a car.