WASHINGTON – The question of whether alleged U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins will face a court-martial won’t be decided until next month at the earliest, according to U.S. government officials.
The officials told Kyodo News that if a court-martial were to take place in Japan, it would most likely be held at Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture, the headquarters of the U.S. Army in Japan.
The officials said the U.S. military officer who will have full power to decide whether Jenkins, whose wife is repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, will face a court-martial has yet to be named.
Japanese government officials expect that a final decision on Jenkins will be made within a month or so, even if he is court-martialed.
But the U.S. officials said that considering past examples, it is impossible a decision will come in August.
According to a U.S. lawyer who is an expert on military law, a military officer empowered to convene a court-martial is obliged to conduct preparatory investigations before making a decision.
Jenkins met with a U.S. military lawyer from South Korea on Saturday for the third straight day, according to Japanese sources.
The Japanese government has released no details of the meetings between Jenkins and the independent defense lawyer, Capt. James Culp, at a Tokyo hospital. Culp is believed to have talked with Jenkins about the possibility of a plea bargain.
A Japanese government source said Friday that Jenkins is aware his only real choice is a plea bargain.
Jenkins is charged with desertion, aiding the enemy, encouraging disloyalty and soliciting other personnel to desert.
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