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Prosecutors to take time before rape charges decision

Date Posted: 2008-02-17

Sixteen Okinawa municipalities are now on record, demanding the U.S. apologize for the actions of a Marine accused of raping a 14-year-old girl on week ago.
As the latest nine communities took action in local Assemblies, Japanese prosecutors announced they’ll keep Staff Sergeant Tyrone Hadnott in custody for another couple weeks before deciding whether to file charges over the February 10th incident. Hadnott is accused of picking up a young teenage girl in Okinawa City on his motorcycle, taking her to his Kitanakagusuku home where he admits forcing her to kiss him, and then driving her to Chatan Town, where he allegedly raped her.
Prosecutors have the option, under Japanese law, to keep a suspect for 23 days before filing charges, and even then can ask a judge for two additional five-day periods to continue investigation before making a decision. Hirokazu Urata says “In a case like this, we expect to use the maximum period available.” Urata, the deputy chief public prosecutor in Naha City, says Hadnott “has told us so far he didn’t think he was being forceful, and that he didn’t think the girl was so young.” The deputy prosecutor says “he didn’t have sex with the girl,” but adds Hadnott thus far has not denied claims he touched the girl’s lower body.
Kadena Town, which surrounds the sprawling Kadena Air Base, America’s largest in Asia, has joined the growing list of municipalities wanting action taken to prevent future incidents. Okinawa Prefecture Assembly has also passed a resolution, and nine additional Okinawa towns and villages are expected to do so in the next few days. Resolutions are demanding a full investigation into the Hadnott case, and also calling for new rules and policies to stop GI’s from causing future incidents.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who says he’s furious about the alleged rape, is preparing to call for immediate removal of 8,000 Marines from the island. Such a plan is in the works, but is linked to building a new military airfield at Camp Schwab to replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Ginowan. Nakaima wants the two actions separated, and wants the military to begin planning to get the majority of Marines off Okinawa.
A project to determine exactly how many American servicemen live off-base, in the local communities, is set to begin this week by Okinawa Prefecture. Hadnott, married but separated from his Japanese wife, lived off-base, near Awase Golf Course. A growing number of local citizens are saying they’re worried the military does not have sufficient control over its personnel living off base, a situation that could lead to future incidents.
United States Forces Japan, meanwhile, has created a task force to examine policies on assault prevention and sexual misconduct, and Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright says his top leaders will review existing programs over the coming few weeks to see what can be done to improve discipline. Wright, commander of U.S. Forces in Japan, has called the Hadnott case and “absolutely unacceptable act” and adds “our job is to do everything we can to restore the confidence of the Japanese people.”
Wright acknowledged programs have appeared to work well, but conceded most of the policies were directed at younger service personnel. “We’ll find ways to make the programs better,” he said. “We obviously have a challenge here.”

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