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Air Station Commander Ignores Court Order to Appear

Date Posted: 2004-03-19

The Marine Corps commander of Futenma Air Station in Ginowan ignored a court order to appear last week for the initial hearing on a lawsuit filed against him by local residents.

The residents are angry over "intolerable" noise from the base, and petitioned Naha District Court to make Colonel Richard Leuking appear and face the issue. The court informed Leuking of the lawsuit by a public summons are the military officer refused to accept a complaint served through the mail by the court last month.

The head of the complainantsí legal team, Tsutomu Arakaki, told the court that "We are holding (Leuking) accountable as an individual who committed illegal behavior,", even if Japan has no jurisdiction over lawsuits filed against the U.S. government.

Some 404 residents living near the Futenma Air Station filed the suit more than a year ago, demanding that Leuking and the Japanese government stop American aircraft takeoffs and landings in the early morning, and again at night.

The U.S. Marine Corps in Japan says the complaint should not be served to the commander as an individual because the issue is public. It seeks resolution through diplomatic channels.

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