Two soldiers in South Korea appeal rape attempt convictions
SEOUL — Appeals in the case of two U.S. soldiers convicted in July of attempting to rape an off-duty police officer were heard Tuesday in Seoul District Court.
Sgt. Anthony Basel, wearing his military dress uniform and a full, unkempt beard, had been sentenced to 3½ years for his part in the attack. He is seeking a sentence reduction.
His attorney, Jin Hyo-geun, offered the court the results of a mental health evaluation that he said showed Basel is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism following an Iraq deployment.
Jin told Stars and Stripes after the brief hearing that he hopes the court reduces Basel’s sentence, but still worries that his client has been unable to reach a financial settlement with the woman he was convicted of attacking. The woman has refused to accept any financial settlement from the soldier because she’s a policewoman.
Jin said Basel’s mother raised $10,000 to pay the woman.
The second soldier, Pfc. Mark Feldman, is appealing his conviction. He was sentenced to three years, but he maintained he wasn’t even in the building at the time of the attack.
His attorney, Kim Jong-pyo, pleaded with the three-judge panel to overturn Feldman’s conviction, noting that during initial witness statements, no one claimed to have seen Feldman at the scene of the crime.
In July, when announcing the sentence, Chief Judge Lee Han-ju said the panel of judges he heads had a “very difficult deliberation” and that he hoped Feldman would appeal. Both soldiers spoke to the court Tuesday.
“I just wanted to say that I still regret what I did,” Basel said. “Even though at that time I don’t remember what I did, I’m sorry for what happened.”
Feldman again claimed he was wrongly convicted.
“I just wanted to say that I am innocent,” he said. “I wasn’t in that bathroom. I don’t know why I’ve been locked up in prison almost nine months when I did nothing wrong.”
The judges are scheduled to render their decision Jan. 14.