S. Korean police: Soldier accused in Itaewon fire too drunk to remember
January 9, 2009
An 8th Army soldier accused of setting fire to an Itaewon restaurant on Jan. 1 was too drunk to remember what happened early that morning, according to South Korean police.
The soldier was called to the Korean police station Wednesday afternoon for questioning, a police officer confirmed on the customary condition of anonymity.
The officer said criminal charges will be forwarded to Seoul prosecutors sometime next week.
According to the police officer, the soldier said he assumed he set the fire because he was the only one at the site when he was rescued by the restaurant’s owner, former Korean movie star Hong Suk-chon.
Police have said they believe the soldier jumped onto the terrace of the My Thai China restaurant and set fire to a mound of trash because he was cold. Police believe the soldier then passed out and the fire spread.
Police said the soldier was too drunk to question that morning, so they returned him to the custody of the U.S. military.
Eighth Army officials have confirmed that a soldier with the 501st Sustainment Brigade was under investigation in connection with the fire.
Neither the South Korean police nor 8th Army officials would provide the soldier’s name or other details.