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SEOUL — The Seoul High Court on Monday freed two U.S. soldiers who were serving prison terms after being convicted of attempting to rape an off-duty South Korean policewoman last April.

Sgt. Anthony Basel and Pfc. Mark Feldman, both 61st Maintenance Company, were convicted July 27 of attempting to rape the woman in a public restroom in the Gangnam district of Seoul after a night of heavy drinking.

Basel, who admitted attempting to rape the woman, was sentenced to 3½ years and Feldman, who maintained his innocence, was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

On Monday, the court overturned Feldman’s conviction, citing a lack of evidence and changing witness testimony during the investigation.

“At the time of the incident, right before the incident there was misconduct and [Feldman was seen] running away with defendant Basel,” head judge Cho Hee-dae said through an interpreter. “This might create the suspicion that he is guilty. However, there is no concrete evidence.”

Cho reduced Basel’s sentence to 18 months, minus the 113 days he had served, but suspended the sentence for two years.

Cho said he reduced and suspended Basel’s sentence because it was a “failed attempt” at rape; Basel was highly intoxicated at the time of the attack; he’d suffered trauma during a deployment to Iraq; and the 10 million won (about $10,905) settlement paid the woman after the first trial.

“It is a good and fortunate day for all of us,” said Basel’s attorney, Jin Hyo-geun. “They are set free finally and able to go back to their base.”

Lt. Col. Brodrick Bailey, an 8th Army spokesman, said late Monday that the soldiers will be returned to their units.

Bailey was unable to say whether they face any U.S. Army legal action.


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