U.S., Japan question four Marines accused in alleged gang-rape
November 1, 2007
Four Marines accused of an alleged gang-rape in Hiroshima remain under investigation by Japanese and U.S. military authorities, a spokesman for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni said Tuesday.
The men were questioned by Hiroshima police on Friday, Monday and Tuesday while a U.S. command representative and military police were present, Maj. Guillermo Canedo said.
Hiroshima police refused to comment Tuesday on the investigation.
The Marines remain in U.S. custody and have been held in confinement cells on the air station since a woman filed allegations with Japanese authorities that the men raped her early on the morning of Oct. 14.
“The matter is still under investigation,” Canedo said. “The Japanese are continuing with their investigation, and we are cooperating fully.”
Last week, the Kyodo news service quoted anonymous sources saying Japanese investigators would not seek arrest warrants due to “ambiguities” in the woman’s testimony.
The Hiroshima police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are handling the case jointly.
If the investigation results in Japanese arrest warrants, the military must decide whether to hand the Marines over to Japanese authorities.
Under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, servicemembers charged with Japanese crimes remain in military custody until indicted if they are being detained on military property.
However, a “gentlemen’s agreement” was reached to hand over suspects accused of violent crimes after the public outcry caused by the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two Marines and a Navy medic in 1995.
The allegations have stirred some tensions from Iwakuni residents and municipal politicians, who planned rallies and filed protest letters, according to Japanese media reports.
But the outcry has so far not matched the protests over the 1995 rape in Okinawa.
A midnight curfew for all servicemembers at Iwakuni remains in effect until further notice.
Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.