NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – Lawyers for a U.S. Marine Corps major accused of attempted rape said Thursday the case should be transferred to the United States.
At the first session of the trial before the Naha District Court, the defense team for Maj. Michael Brown, 40, also said the court decision should be based not only on Japanese law but also on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the U.S. Constitution.
The case drew public attention when the U.S. turned down Japan’s request that Brown be handed over before his indictment.
The indictment came Dec. 19 over the attempted rape of a Philippine woman in her car Nov. 2 in the city of Gushikawa.
According to the indictment, Brown, based at Camp Courtney in Gushikawa, also threw the woman’s cell phone into a nearby river to prevent her from reporting the incident.
Brown denies the charges but admits he was with the woman when the alleged incidents took place. Brown said the woman asked him to have sex with her, and filed the criminal complaint after he refused.
According to the indictment, Brown had been drinking on base and had asked the woman, whom he had met that same day, to give him a ride in her car to his home off base. It said shortly after they left, he told her to park on a deserted road and attempted to rape her.
According to sources close to Brown’s investigation, police have found that DNA in saliva samples detected on the woman’s upper torso matched that of Brown.
Local police believe the finding substantiates the charges, the sources said.
Police conducted the DNA test after obtaining the saliva off the woman immediately after the incident and asked the U.S. military to take a blood sample from Brown.
Brown has argued that he had not acted in any way that could have left his salvia adhering to the woman’s body, but police indicted him after finding his statement apparently contradicted the test results, the sources said.
On Wednesday, one of Brown’s lawyers, Toshimitsu Takaesu, said his client would enter no plea in the case.
Speaking to reporters in Naha, Takaesu said the public outcry over cases involving U.S. servicemen in Okinawa will impede a fair trial, adding the case “has become a political issue.”
Brown’s defense has also criticized Japan’s criminal justice system, which bars the presence of a lawyer during interrogation.
The U.S. government handed Brown over to Japanese authorities the day Japanese prosecutors indicted him.
Before the charges were filed, the United States declined to hand Brown over to Japanese authorities, citing the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and Brown’s denial of the charge.
The agreement does not require the U.S. to hand over military personnel suspected of committing crimes unless they are charged by Japanese authorities.
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