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SEOUL — Aggravated rape charges against a U.S. soldier accused of brutally attacking a 67-year-old South Korean woman have been forwarded to Seoul prosecutors.

South Korean police forwarded the charges to prosecutors eight days after taking into custody a man they identified as 23-year-old Pvt. Geronimo Ramirez. Mapo police accuse him of raping the woman three times Jan. 14 in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood.

A Seoul Southern District Prosecutors Office official confirmed Tuesday that the case had arrived Monday afternoon.

Prosecutor Jeung Soon-shin, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday, now must decide whether to indict the soldier.

Ramirez has been in South Korean custody since police said they caught him fleeing the scene early Sunday morning.

Jin Hyo-guen, the soldier’s attorney, provided a copy of a handwritten letter from Ramirez to the woman last week.

In the letter, the soldier apologizes for the “abuse and trauma” he said he was told he inflicted on her, but added that he was so drunk “that I don’t remember it.”

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell released a statement Jan. 15 after learning of the incident.

“I am shocked and horrified at the egregious nature of this crime, and I am extremely upset by this senseless act against an elderly woman,” Bell wrote in the news release.

“On behalf of USFK, I want to express my personal apologies for the great suffering caused her and to the Korean people for this terrible incident.”

And on Jan. 17, he released a message to the entire USFK community in which he stressed how he expects troops to behave.

USFK officials have refused to confirm the soldier’s identity unless he is indicted.

A 2nd Infantry Division spokeswoman would confirm only that a Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment soldier was in South Korean custody.

If convicted of aggravated rape, Ramirez would face a prison term of five years to life, South Korean legal officials have said.


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