Marine, Airman trespassing cases go to prosecutor
The immediate futures of a U.S. Marine Corps officer and an airman are in the hands of the Naha District Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide what to do with the pair who are accused of trespassing and other crimes in two separate incidents.
The 24-year-old Marine Corps officer, 1st Lt. Tomas Chanquet, is accused of trespassing into a four-floor apartment in downtown Naha early Sunday after a night of drinking in a Naha City bar. Chanquet is assigned to Camp Foster. Okinawa Police had initially said he was assigned to Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.
The Japanese civilian charges will center upon trespassing, while it is expected that ultimately the military will go after the lieutenant for violating a command curfew. Chanquet has told police he was aware of the curfew, but broke it “to go drinking with a female employee of a bar”. He also told police he was drinking alcohol at three separate bars, starting about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night and leaving the last one around 6 a.m. Sunday.
Shortly after that, he is said to have entered an apartment around 7:35 a.m. Once arrested, he first told police a woman he met while drinking told him it was okay for him to go sleep in the room. Chanquet has since changed his deposition, saying he was so drunk he doesn’t remember how he got into the apartment.
The second incident that’s gone to the prosecutor this week involves an airman assigned to Kadena Air Base who entered a third-floor apartment in Yomitan after an after-curfew drinking bout at a first floor bar. In the apartment, he allegedly hit a young teenage boy, then broke a television set, and tried to escape by jumping from a window. The three-story fall was enough to break ribs and other bones and put the unidentified serviceman in the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
The 24-year-old airman has admitted to the charges, including hitting the 13-year-old, and has apologized to the family. He’s in U.S. military custody despite demands from Okinawans he be handed over to Japanese Police. The Okinawa Prefectural Police did not seek an arrest warrant, telling reporters the airman has been cooperating with questioning and the investigation. Both incidents involved violations of the 11 p.m. ~ 5 a.m. curfew on all U.S. military personnel in Japan that was imposed last month following the alleged rape of an Okinawa woman by two sailors.
The Marine lieutenant has told police he’s embarrassed for having caused the incident, and apologized for frightening people. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura, says “it’s extremely regrettable the incident occurred at a time when the night curfew is in place and measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents are being considered.”