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Two U.S. Navy sailors accused of Okinawa rape face 12-year sentences

Kyodo

Prosecutors sought prison terms of up to 12 years Wednesday for two U.S. sailors charged with raping and injuring a woman in her 20s in Okinawa last October.

In the pair’s lay judge trial before the Naha District Court, prosecutors recommended a 12-year sentence for Seaman Christopher Browning, 24, and a 10-year sentence for Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, 23.

Presiding Judge Hideyuki Suzuki is scheduled to rule Friday.

The defendants’ acts “ignored the human rights of the victim” and were “extremely vicious,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The two sailors pleaded guilty the previous day, but Browning denied having conspired with Dozierwalker in advance.

When the presiding judge asked if the two had anything to say before the session closed, they apologized to the victim, expressing words of remorse.

At the closing statement, the defense lawyers asked the court not to impose harsher punishment just because the two are U.S. survicemen. “Meting out a harsher penalty than what a Japanese convicted of the same crime would get would constitute discrimination. Please reach a fair and impartial decision,” the defense team said in a statement.

The pair stand accused of raping the woman at around 3:40 a.m. on Oct. 16 last year in a parking lot in the central part of the main island of Okinawa and causing her physical injuries that required about two weeks to heal.

Browning is also charged with robbing the woman of around ¥7,000.

Prosecutors in their opening statement said Dozierwalker choked the victim from behind near the entrance to her apartment building and, along with Browning, forced her to the parking lot, where they raped her. Prosecutors said she could not fight back out of fear of being killed.

During the trial, surveillance camera footage from the parking lot showing the two men choking and raping the victim was presented.

After the crime, the U.S. military imposed a nighttime curfew on all its 40,000 service members in Japan.

Despite the curfew, however, 10 U.S. servicemen and other related personnel have since been arrested by Okinawa police over crimes and accidents mostly related to drinking.