After soldier held for rape, U.S. vows assistanceThe U.S. government promised to fully cooperate with an investigation of an alleged rape of a young Korean woman by a U.S. soldier.
Previous assault and rape cases have fanned anti-U.S. sentiment in Korea.
On Wednesday, the Dongducheon Police Precinct in Gyeonggi said it was investigating an allegation that a U.S. soldier raped an 18-year-old Korean woman in her rented room in Dongducheon early Saturday morning.
According to the Korean Embassy in the United States, Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, called Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Duck-soo hours later, expressing regret over the incident and pledging cooperation.
Edward Cardon, the new commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, also issued a statement Wednesday apologizing to the victim’s family and the Korean public.
“We take incidents like this very seriously and will do everything we can to make things right,” Cardon said in the statement. “We will continue to work in close cooperation with community leaders and the Korean National Police as they investigate this incident to ensure justice is served.”
The police said that the soldier, identified as a 21-year-old private in the 2nd Infantry Division, somehow got into the woman’s room at a gositel, a low-cost apartment building, around 4 a.m. Saturday. The woman was watching television when the soldier allegedly threatened her, raped her and ran away.
The woman called the police and they identified the soldier through CCTV footage.
They notified the U.S. Forces Korea and asked that the soldier report to the police to answer questions. He reported on Monday.
According to the police, the private said it was likely he committed the crime but he didn’t remember because he was drunk at the time.
The police handed the soldier over to the U.S. Military Police Corps on Wednesday and sent the case to the prosecution. Prosecutors are planning to further investigate.
Sex crimes by U.S. servicemen are always politically sensitive, especially since the brutal killing of Yun Geum-i, a prostitute in Dongducheon, in 1992. The soldier convicted in that case served more than 13 years in Korean jail. In April, a U.S. soldier was sentenced to seven years in prison for assaulting an elderly Korean couple during a home invasion in Dongducheon and attempting to rape the wife.
“We hope the actions of one individual do not tarnish the years of friendship between our soldiers and the Korean people,” said Cardon.
A local civic group, however, said expressions of regret were not sufficient and the U.S. government should come up with fundamental solutions to violent behavior by its soldiers.
The group, the northern Gyeonggi branch of the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement, called a media conference in front of Camp Casey in Dongducheon yesterday and demanded the U.S. soldier be detained for a thorough investigation and proper punishment.
It also demanded a curfew for U.S. soldiers and a revision of the U.S.-ROK Status of Forces Agreement to give Korea more rights to investigate crimes by U.S. soldiers.
By Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
미군, 효순·미선양 사건 학습 효과
동두천서 10대 성폭행 혐의
2사단장 “한국민에게 사죄” 성명
미 정부도 “깊은 유감” 빠른 대응
경기도 동두천시에서 10대 여성을 성폭행한 혐의를 받고 있는 미군에 대해 구속영장이 청구될 전망이다. 의정부지검 형사1부는 29일 강도강간 혐의를 받고 있는 미군 2사단 소속 K(21) 이병을 불러 조사를 했다. 경찰이 사건을 송치한 지 하루 만이다. 검찰이 송치된 서류를 검토해 피의자를 부르기까지는 보통 일주일 정도 걸린다는 점을 감안하면 신속한 수사가 이뤄지고 있는 것이다. 검찰은 K이병이 범행을 대부분 시인한 만큼 30일 법무부와 협의한 뒤 이르면 다음 달 1일 구속영장을 청구할 방침이다. K이병은 지난 24일 오전 4시쯤 만취상태로 동두천 시내 한 고시텔에 들어가 TV를 보던 A양(18)을 흉기로 위협한 뒤 수차례 성폭행하고 5000원을 빼앗아 달아난 혐의로 검거됐다.
미국 정부 역시 발 빠르게 대응하고 있다. 28일 사건이 보도되자마자 에드워드 카돈 미2 사단장은 성명을 내고 “이번 사건에 대해 깊은 유감을 표한다”며 “피해자 가족과 한국 국민에게 진실한 사죄를 구한다”고 말했다. 미 국무부의 고위 당국자도 같은 목소리를 냈다. 커트 캠벨 국무부 동아태 담당 차관보는 28일 오후 2시(현지시간) 한덕수 주미대사에게 전화를 걸어 “한국 여학생이 주한미군 병사에 의해 성폭행당했다는 끔찍한 뉴스를 들었다”며 “깊은 유감을 표명한다”고 말했다. 빌 번스 국무부 부장관도 같은 날 오후 5시30분쯤 한 대사에게 전화를 걸었다. 워싱턴 소식통들은 “미 정부가 2002년 주한미군 장갑차에 의한 효순·미선양 사망사건 때 제대로 대응하지 못해 한국 내에서 반미 감정을 고조시켰던 경험을 교훈으로 삼은 것 같다”고 분석했다.
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