Accused U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins might voluntarily report to a U.S. Army base near Tokyo this weekend to face charges, sources said Wednesday.
Jenkins, 64, has met U.S. military counsel Capt. James Culp several times since early August and is expected to seek a plea bargain for a dishonorable discharge, Japanese government sources said.
Culp is expected to negotiate with U.S. military authorities. Jenkins, who is married to repatriated Japanese abductee Hitomi Soga, may report to the base Saturday.
The U.S. Army says Jenkins crossed into North Korea from South Korea in 1965 while on patrol along the Demilitarized Zone. He is charged with deserting, aiding the enemy, encouraging disloyalty and soliciting other personnel to desert.
Jenkins recently said that he planned to voluntarily report to a U.S. Army base “very shortly.”
He will go to the U.S. Army’s Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture with his wife, their North Korean-born daughters and his U.S. military defense lawyer, the government sources said.
If Jenkins is court-martialed and cops a plea, the U.S. military would probably make a final decision by taking into account such factors as the case’s possible political impact as well as his age and health, experts said.
Jenkins is expected to seek a dishonorable discharge to avoid imprisonment under a plea bargain in exchange for providing the U.S. government with information on U.S. and South Korean soldiers who deserted to North Korea or were taken there.
Jenkins has been staying at a Tokyo hospital for medical treatment since arriving in Tokyo on July 18 from Jakarta, where the couple and their two daughters were reunited for the first time since Pyongyang allowed Soga to return to Japan in 2002.