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NAHA, Okinawa — A U.S. civilian employee on Torii Station pleaded guilty in Naha District Court on Friday to possessing an illegal antique rifle and ammunition at his Yomitan home.

Delbert W. Spear, 46, civilian contractor at the Army base, apologized to the judge during the opening session.

He has been in Japanese custody since his May 22 arrest following a police search and confiscation of a rifle and ammunition. He is accused of violating Japanese laws to control firearms, swords and explosives.

Prosecutor Eisaku Yokoyama said Spear obtained the outdated-model rifle as a souvenir while participating in training in Australia.

Spear brought back the rifle in a military aircraft and kept it at his home, Yokoyama said.

“The rifle is still capable of shooting right through 226 sheets of corrugated cardboard,” he said.

Yokoyama said the ammunition, 41 live rounds for a handgun and 199 rifle rounds, was collected from a military live-fire training site on Okinawa.

“It was a part of the defendant’s job to recover unused ammunition from the live-fire training site,” the prosecutor said. “Military regulations require him to dispose of all the recovered ammunition in a designated container on Torii Station on the same day. However, he began to think it was too much of a bother to take them to the container each time.”

That was how Spear began to keep the recovered ammunition at his home, Yokoyama said.

Spear, who served in the Marine Corps and Army and has lived on Okinawa since 1998, did not appear to have ever used the rifle, according to a police report.

The next hearing is set for July 21.


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