Soldiers await court’s action in attempted rape
July 26, 2007
SEOUL — A South Korean court is expected to issue a final ruling Friday in the case of two U.S. soldiers accused of attempting to rape a South Korean policewoman after a day of heavy drinking in Seoul.
Sgt. Anthony Q. Basel, 23, has admitted he tried to rape the woman inside a public bathroom but said he was too drunk to remember the April 5 incident. The other soldier, Pfc. Marc C. Feldmann, 21, said he was trying to catch a taxi when the attack occurred. Both soldiers are stationed at Camp Casey with the 61st Maintenance Company, 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
One of Basel’s attorneys, Lee Hye-jeong, said Tuesday that the soldier regrets what happened and is psychologically unstable. Basel, a veteran of the Iraq war, has said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The soldiers have been held in a South Korean prison since mid-May.
“He is just calmly awaiting his sentence,” Lee said of Basel.
The prosecutor said in court that Feldmann stood inside the bathroom guarding the door while Basel tried to rape the woman. He recommended last week that Basel be sentenced to seven years in prison and Feldmann be sentenced to five years.
Feldmann disputed the prosecutor’s claims, stating in court that he wasn’t in the bathroom or building during the attack.
Lee predicts both soldiers will be given prison sentences.
If the judges believe Feldmann was in the bathroom, Basel likely will receive a longer prison sentence because crimes committed with an accomplice are judged more harshly under South Korean law, Lee said.
Defense attorneys have said the policewoman testified in June that she doesn’t know whether a second person was in the bathroom during the attack. Judges ordered spectators to leave the courtroom during the policewoman’s hourlong testimony in June and have barred reporters from taking notes during the trial.
Restaurant owner Cho Sung-Hwan, who responded to the woman’s screams for help, initially told police he discovered one man in the bathroom. He later told police there was a second man in the bathroom.
He testified earlier that he didn’t remember where the second man was standing because he was shocked and embarrassed by the incident.
Feldmann’s attorney, Kim Jong-pyo, said Tuesday he hopes Feldmann will not go to jail, but that it’s hard to predict what the judges will do.
“In my opinion, with little evidence, it is impossible to find the defendant guilty,” he said.