NAHA – A U.S. Marine on trial in Japan for attempted rape will sue the U.S. federal government for handing him over to Japan and thereby subjecting him to the Japanese criminal justice system, which has been criticized for human rights abuses, a U.S. lawyer representing him said Thursday.
Maj. Michael Brown, 39, has decided to file a suit at a U.S. federal district court in Texas, New York-based attorney Michael Griffith told reporters in Okinawa.
Japanese public prosecutors indicted Brown on Dec. 19 on a charge of attempting to rape a Filipino woman in his car in Okinawa on Nov. 2. The U.S. government handed him over to Japanese authorities later the same day. He is also suspected of destroying the woman’s cell phone.
Brown, who was stationed at Camp Courtney in Okinawa, says he did not try to rape the woman.
According to Griffith, Brown believes it is illegal for the U.S. government to hand him, a U.S. serviceman, over to Japan knowing that he could be exposed to a criminal justice system accused of human rights violations such as using police jails to detain suspects instead of detention houses.
Critics have said that leaving suspects with police rather than dedicated detention facilities can restrict their right to counsel and is conducive to coercing confessions.
Brown is also considering naming the Japanese government in the suit, according to Griffith.
The first hearing of Brown’s trial is set for March 13 at the Naha District Court. Brown’s Japanese lawyer, Toshimitsu Takasue, is planning to ask the court to admit Griffith as a special attorney for the suspect.
The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement does not require the United States to hand over military personnel accused of crimes unless they are indicted by Japanese authorities.
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