Summons delivery fails in McFarland caseAfter a series of failed attempts, local police told a South Korean court that they could not find Albert McFarland, an American civilian employee of the U.S. military here, to deliver a court summons for arraignment on charges of discharging toxic chemicals into Seoul’s Han River.
The U.S. 8th Army, however, confirmed that Mr. McFarland is still in Korea and is still employed by the military.
Civic groups are criticizing South Korean authorities for being reluctant to make progress in the prolonged case. “We have told the police where Mr. McFarland lives, but they still failed to deliver the subpoena. That’s a matter of will,” Park In-young of Green Korea United said yesterday.
Last month, the Seoul District Court asked police in Seoul’s Yongsan district to locate Mr. McFarland after bailiffs were rejected by U.S. military here to deliver court summons for an arraignment.
Judge Kim Jae-hwan said yesterday he has not yet decided how to handle the case. He said earlier this month that Mr. McFarland might be tried in absentia.
Mr. McFarland said he did not wish to comment on the matter, said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan, public affairs officer of the U.S. 8th Army.
Mr. McFarland is accused of ordering his staff in 2000 to dump 24 gallons of formaldehyde at a U.S. military mortuary in Seoul whose drain was linked to the Han River.
So far, the case has been held up for two-and-a-half years due to conflicts over jurisdiction issues.
“The United States exercises primary jurisdiction over this case,” Colonel Boylan said after consulting with the U.S. military’s legal affairs division. “We informed the Korean government in April 2001 of our decision. South Korea had 30 days to refute the decision, but it didn’t.”
In contrast, Prosecutor Kwon Jeong-hun of the justice ministry said South Korea has the primary jurisdiction over Mr. McFarland’s case. “What the United States sent us in 2001 was an official duty certificate and a written intention that it would exercise disciplinary jurisdiction over this case,” Mr. Kwon said. “The United States Forces Korea never expressed its intention to exercise criminal jurisdiction.”
by Ser Myo-ja
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