Japanese Court Sentences US Marine For Rape

A Japanese court sentenced Lance Corporal Jose Torres to three-and-a-half years in prison for raping a woman in Okinawa, Japan. Torres was found guilty of beating and raping a 19-year-old woman on May 25 in an entertainment area near a US military base.

The United States handed over Torres in a move by Washington to fend off anger over the case, reports the BBC, even though the United States and Japan have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that they are not obliged to hand over suspects until formal charges are made.

Sexual violence by the US military strikes sensitive chords among Okinawan residents, who in 1995 suffered the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl by three United States servicemen. Inhabitants of the small Japanese island, which hosts over half of the nearly 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan, have repeatedly called for a reduction in US military presence.

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BBC News 9/12/03; Reuters 9/13/03; Stars and Stripes 9/16/03

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