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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean civic groups are banding together to press the U.S. military to deny a request from a U.S. Air Force lieutenant charged in an alleged shakedown of bars outside Osan Air Base to resign and avoid court-martial, a civic leader said Monday.

The groups will use a “big demonstration” planned for Saturday outside Camp Humphreys to highlight their concerns over the case of 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis and say they’ll mount larger rallies later if the Air Force allows Davis to resign, said Kim Yong-han, president of the Task Force To Oppose The Expansion of U.S. Bases in Pyeongtaek.

Activists also have written to the South Korean Ministry of Justice asking that if the Air Force allows Davis to resign that South Korean authorities bar him from leaving the country so they can prosecute him on weapons charges they previously have said they’re considering.

Until his arrest March 1, Davis, of the 51st Security Forces Squadron at Osan Air Base, led an Air Force police team that patrolled the Shinjang-Dong commercial district of bars, restaurants and other businesses just outside the base.

Air Force prosecutors have set his court-martial for Sept. 19 at Osan Air Base on charges of bribery, extortion, rape, assault, larceny, adultery, violations of regulations and lawful orders, willful dereliction of duty, making false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer. The alleged offenses occurred while Davis headed the town patrol, according to prosecutors.

Stars and Stripes learned earlier this month that Davis on July 6 asked to resign in lieu of court-martial, a procedure known as RILO. Whether to grant or deny the request is up to the Secretary of the Air Force. If the secretary denies the request, Davis would face court-martial.

No decision has been issued yet on Davis’ RILO submission, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman David Oten said Monday.

“The request for resignation in lieu of court-martial is being considered at Secretary of the Air Force level and we await that outcome,” Oten said.

Saturday’s demonstration is set for 3 p.m. in Daechu-ri, a tract of farmland just outside Camp Humphreys, which is in the Anjung-ri section of Pyeongtaek City.

The rally originally was scheduled to protest a plan between the United States and South Korea under which U.S. forces in Seoul and points north would move south, mainly to Camp Humphreys. The plan would see Camp Humphreys triple in size by 2008.

But Kim said that after learning of Davis’ resignation request, protest groups have decided to put the Davis case center-stage Saturday. He said his group was “now making the solidarity campaign” with the National Campaign for Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea and other civic groups.

Kim was an organizer of the July 10 demonstration outside Camp Humphreys in which about 7,000 demonstrators clashed with 10,000 South Korean riot police. Some demonstrators pulled down a section of the Camp Humphreys fence. Others threw steel pipes at police, reportedly injuring up to 60 officers. Protesters later said many of their number also were injured and accused police of using excessive force.

RILO requests rarely granted

Processing a RILO (resign in lieu of court-martial) request typically has taken about 100 days, according to the Air Force.

Over the past four years, Air Force records indicate few RILO requests have been approved.

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