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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Japan gets custody of US marine
Children join a peaceful demonstration outside Kadena Air Base at Chatan in Okinawa
Resentment is high against the US military presence in Okinawa
The United States says it will allow Japan to take custody of a marine suspected of raping a local woman on the southern island of Okinawa.

A Japanese court issued an arrest warrant for 21-year-old Lance Corporal Jose W Torres on Monday, after police accused him of raping and hitting a 19-year-old girl on 15 May.

The American military is not legally required, under an agreement governing the status of US forces in Japan, to hand over suspects to Japanese police until they are formally indicted.

But, amid local resentment at the heavy US presence in Okinawa, military officials had promised to consider Japan's request.

Mr Torres will only be the second US serviceman on Okinawa to be turned over to the Japanese authorities prior to formal indictment.

The large number of US forces in Okinawa is an extremely sensitive issue.

About 26,000 of the 48,000 US military personnel in Japan are hosted on the island string, even though they make up less than 1% of the Japanese landmass.

Japanese police have said the suspect admitted punching the woman in an alley, but denied raping her, saying the sex was consensual, Kyodo news agency reported.

The attack allegedly took place around 0330 local time on 25 May in the town of Kin, according to a statement by the marines.

There have been a number of criminal cases involving US servicemen in recent years.

In 1995, the rape of a local schoolgirl by three US servicemen triggered outrage throughout Okinawa.

Japan custody for US marine
19 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Okinawa welcomes rape verdict
28 Mar 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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