NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – A U.S. Marine lance corporal admitted Thursday on the opening day of his trial that he raped and beat a woman in Okinawa in May.
Jose Torres, 21, stationed at Camp Hansen, is accused of raping the woman on a narrow street in the town of Kin at around 3:15 a.m. May 25.
He hit her once in the face, grabbed her hair, forced her onto a staircase and raped her, prosecutors told the Naha District Court. The woman suffered a broken nose and other injuries that required three weeks to heal, they said.
Torres initially denied any wrongdoing when he was arrested June 18 but later admitted to the charges, they said. He is the third serviceman the U.S. military has agreed to turn over to Japanese police prior to indictment, based on a request from the Japanese government.
Committing rape resulting in injury can carry a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum sentence of life.
Under the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement, the U.S. military is not required to hand over personnel suspected of crimes to Japanese authorities until they are charged.
But following the rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. servicemen in 1995, the U.S. agreed to give “sympathetic consideration” to the handover of suspects in serious crimes, including rape and murder, before charges are filed.
Okinawa has long called for a SOFA revision to facilitate such handovers. But the Japanese government has maintained it will first make efforts with the U.S. to improve how the current pact is followed before considering a revision.
On July 2, Japanese and U.S. officials began discussing ways to improve the procedures surrounding the handover of criminal suspects prior to indictment with a view to concluding negotiations within 45 days.
Japan wants to clarify the further types of crimes under which handovers prior to indictment are possible, while the U.S. is demanding an expansion of suspects’ rights, including having a lawyer or U.S. government official present during police questioning.
The crimes that currently qualify for sympathetic consideration by the U.S. are murder, rape and “other specific cases.”