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Long jail term sought for US soldier over S. Korea rape

24 october 2011, 13:35
U.S. soldiers in South Korea. ©Reuters
U.S. soldiers in South Korea. ©Reuters
South Korean prosecutors Friday demanded a 15-year prison sentence for a US soldier charged with raping a teenager last month, a case which prompted an apology from a top American diplomat, AFP reports.

"No leniency should be granted to the offender as he committed a hideous crime against a young student," a senior prosecutor told a court in the city of Uijeongbu north of Seoul, Yonhap news agency reported.

Prosecutors called for the identity of the accused to be made public, saying he had forced "sadistic and perverted" acts upon the 18-year-old victim.

The soldier, who according to Yonhap expressed regret in court for his actions, will face a final hearing on November 1.

Judges are not bound by prosecution sentencing demands.

Under the South Korean system defendants are not required formally to plead guilty or not guilty.

The private soldier is charged with raping the 18-year-old multiple times at a private dorm at Dongducheon, the base of the US Second Infantry Division, which is near the border with North Korea.

The US military handed him over to South Korean authorities.

Another US private soldier has also been under investigation for the alleged rape of another teenager in a separate incident. The suspect in that case reportedly claims the sex was consensual.

Crimes by the 28,500 US troops based in the South are a sensitive subject, even though many see the presence of American troops as necessary to deter a North Korean attack.

Major anti-American protests broke out after a US armoured vehicle killed two schoolgirls in a traffic accident in 2002.

Visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell this month offered an apology to the Korean people for "the tragic and inexcusable rape" in a reference to the Dongducheon case.

The US military has also apologised and imposed a month-long late-night curfew on its troops in the country.

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