Marine Major’s hit-and-run case handed over to prosecutors
Last December, a 67-year-old unemployed man was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Okinawa City, in which he was seriously injured. Eventually, 41-year-old U.S. Marine Major Ahn from Camp Courtney came forward as the driver of the car, and when questioned, confessed to the crime.
Ahn was left in the U.S. military custody while the Okinawa Prefectural Police was investigating the case. The Japanese police did not ask immediate custody of Ahn following his confession as they concluded that it was not likely he would leave the country. On May 21, police finally completed the investigation and sent their report to the Naha District Prosecutors Office.
According to people familiar with the case, Japanese and U.S. authorities had discussed the matter behind closed doors, and the incident has been judged to have happened while Ahn was not on duty. That leaves open a possibility that Ahn is going to be prosecuted in a Japanese court.
According to the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement, Japan can indict SOFA-status persons on duty only if the U.S. side agrees to hand over jurisdiction in the case, while the Japanese can have the first jurisdiction when the accused is off duty.
The incident happened on Route 75 in Misato, Okinawa City, in the early morning of Dec. 4th last year. Ahn was on his way to work from his home on Camp Kinser, but he had stopped by some places like his friend’s house after the accident.
The injured man was in critical condition after the accident, however, he’s now recovering.