South Korea has asked the United States to take stringent measures against U.S. soldiers involved in a string of recent crimes in that country, a presidential official said on Monday.
The call comes in the wake of a spurt in the number of crimes involving American soldiers, and both the countries have started to study the cause. "After consultations with the U.S., we plan to come up with stronger measures. The United States takes this matter seriously and I believe will take stronger internal measures," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the unnamed official as saying.
The President's policy and security affairs office on Sunday directed a Foreign Ministry official handling U.S. relations to demand stronger preventive measures from U.S. Forces Korea and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, the report said.
Several U.S. service-members have been arrested this month in separate cases for firing into a crowded nightlife district in Seoul, and assaulting police officers. Faced with a series of crimes involving servicemen, the 8th U.S. Army vowed to step up crime prevention measures and impose tougher disciplinary actions for misconduct.
"Eighth Army absolutely does not condone and will not tolerate misconduct. Pending the outcome (of investigations), any soldier convicted of a crime will be considered for additional command action, to include separation from the United States Army," said a statement from the U.S. military unit carried by the news agency.
As part of crime preventive measures, U.S. soldiers will be barred from drinking alcohol and receiving extended weekend passes. They will also be required to go through personal conduct training and leadership seminars to better abide by local laws and regulations. Those who do not meet conduct standards will face tougher identification screening, it said.
A staunch ally in the Asia-Pacific, South Korea hosts a number of U.S. military bases with about 28,500 soldiers to protect the country from its enemies, especially from its Communist neighbor.
Meanwhile, two U.S. marines who were sentenced to jail terms for raping and injuring a woman in Japan's Okinawa prefecture have decided not to appeal their guilty verdicts.
Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker were charged with sexually assaulting and injuring a Japanese woman in her 20s in October last in Okinawa, the home of two important U.S. military bases.
Earlier this month, the Naha District Court in Okinawa sentenced Browning to ten years in prison and Dozierwalker to nine years, after ruling that the crime ignored the victim's dignity and was contemptible.
The convicts were asked to file their appeals by Saturday midnight. But the Naha District Court and their lawyers said their prison terms were now finalized, as they did not appeal by then, Japanese media reported.
by RTT Staff Writer
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