Soldier convicted of stabbing S. Korean
SEOUL — A U.S. soldier has been convicted of attempted-murder charges in a May stabbing incident and sentenced to 30 months in a South Korean prison, prosecutors said Friday.
Pfc. John C. Humphreys, of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, has one week to appeal the verdict and the sentence, said Shim Dong-kyu, of the Seoul Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutors originally sought a five-year prison term.
Humphreys was convicted after a trial before a three-judge panel. Prosecutors say he stabbed a 27-year-old South Korean man who was trying to intervene in a drunken disturbance early on the morning of May 15. Humphreys pleaded self-defense.
In two days of testimony earlier this month, prosecutors questioned two U.S. soldiers, a South Korean soldier attached to a U.S. Army unit and two South Korean civilians who witnessed the incident.
According to prosecution witnesses, Humphreys and a group of other soldiers were drinking and causing a disturbance in a Seoul neighborhood when the South Korean man tried to calm the group.
Humphreys, 21, was arrested by South Korean police and turned over to his unit during the investigation. Last month, Humphreys became only the second U.S. soldier handed over to South Korean officials for pre-trial confinement.
Under 2001 revisions of the U.S.-South Korean status of forces agreement, U.S. soldiers now can be held before a trial if charged with any of a dozen serious crimes, including attempted murder.
After the stabbing, 8th Army officials expressed regret for the incident and promised full cooperation. Police officials said four other U.S. soldiers and a South Korean soldier assigned to a U.S. Army unit also were investigated in the case. No further charges were filed.
Late Friday, 8th Army issued a statement saying it “does not condone the nature of behavior related to this conviction.”
“We have full respect [for] and cooperate with the legal authorities of both the U.S. and, especially, the Republic of Korea,” the statement read, saying the Army is committed to complying with the legal provisions of the status of forces agreement.
U.S. military officials declined to say whether the other soldiers received nonjudicial punishment.