South Korea to get custody of soldier charged in stabbing
July 29, 2004
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A U.S. soldier will be handed over to South Korean authorities next week for pre-trial confinement on attempted murder charges, officials said late Tuesday.
According to an 8th Army release, Pfc. John C. Humphreys, of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, will be handed to South Korean officials investigating a May 15 stabbing incident in Seoul’s Sinchon district.
“The U.S. Army placed him on international hold and he has been restricted to Camp Humphreys since the incident,” the 8th Army release read. “The Republic of Korea Ministry of Justice notified the U.S. military authorities on 15 June that they decided to exercise jurisdiction in this case.”
Under revisions to the U.S.-South Korean status of forces agreement, or SOFA, made in 2001, South Korean officials now can request pre-trial custody of servicemembers charged with any of 12 “serious” crimes. Attempted murder is one of those charges.
The 8th Army release stated that on Tuesday, a South Korean court granted the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office’s June request for a detention warrant.
South Korean police have accused Humphreys — whose name 8th Army did not confirm until Tuesday — of stabbing a 27-year-old South Korean man early on the morning of May 15.
Local media reports at the time said the South Korean man was trying to intervene in a drunken altercation.
After the incident, police officials said four other U.S. soldiers and a South Korean soldier assigned to a U.S. Army unit also were under investigation. But no other formal charges have been filed in the incident; Army officials would not discuss whether other soldiers had been administratively punished in connection with the stabbing.
After the incident, 8th Army officials expressed “sincere regrets” and pledged to cooperate with investigators.
Humphreys will become the second U.S. soldier to be held in pre-trial confinement by the South Koreans.
The first was Sgt. Jerry Onken, handed over to the South Korean judicial system for pre-trial confinement on Jan. 2. Onken, convicted in connection with a Thanksgiving 2003 drunken driving crash that killed a South Korean woman, was sentenced to three years in prison.