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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Jenkins asks to see US lawyer
Charles Jenkins, an alleged US army deserter arrives in Japan
Mr Jenkins is receiving hospital treatment in Japan
An alleged US army deserter in hospital in Tokyo plans to meet a US military lawyer to discuss the charges against him, the Japanese government says.

Charles Jenkins "said this morning he wanted to meet an independent counsel", said spokesman Hiroyuki Hosoda.

Mr Jenkins is accused of leaving his American platoon in South Korea and defecting to the North in 1965.

He arrived in Tokyo with his Japanese wife on 18 July, despite the threat of being extradited to the US.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said Mr Jenkins' request to see a lawyer did not necessarily mean that he was ready to plead guilty to the charges against him.

"It is not a precondition that he will plead guilty and plea-bargain," Mr Hosoda said.

Charles Jenkins

"First he will learn about what his legal problems are, what the issues are and about the legal system itself, and learn how to handle those issues."

The US has stated its intention to pursue a case against Mr Jenkins, but has delayed demanding immediate custody in consideration of his medical condition.

He is currently receiving treatment in a Tokyo hospital following surgery conducted in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

The Japanese government, which wants Mr Jenkins to stay in the country with his wife and North Korean-born daughters, has urged the US authorities to be lenient with him.

The Japanese public is sympathetic to Mr Jenkins and his Japanese wife Hitomi Soga, who was abducted by North Korea in the 1970s.

She was allowed to return to Japan in 2002 with the other abductees. But Mr Jenkins remained in North Korea with the couple's two children, fearing he would be sought by the US authorities.

Earlier this month, the family held a dramatic reunion in Indonesia, which - unlike Japan - does not have an extradition treaty with the US.




SEE ALSO:
Japan gripped by Cold War love story
18 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
North Korea's mystery guest
08 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Japan pleads with US for Jenkins
19 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
US may delay 'deserter' handover
17 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
US 'deserter' wants family united
12 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific


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