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First Court Martial for US Solders Who Killed Korean Girls

First Court Martial for US Solders Who Killed Korean Girls

Posted November. 18, 2002 22:52,   


Yesterday, the court martial was held against the two US solders, who were indicted on a charge of manslaughter. The hearing was open to the public and the press. The two solders were charged with running over two Korean middle school students while operating an armored vehicle.

The court martial took place in Camp Casey of the US 2nd Army in Dongdoochun City, Kyunggi Province. One of the indicted, Fernando Nino, made his appearance at the hearing, wearing uniform and being accompanied by his attorney and wife. The victims` families were not on hand.

Present in the courtroom were Korean government officials from the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, lawyers of civil rights organizations and 6 reporters. For the additional 20 reporters, a separate room was provided, equipped with a TV screen relaying the court proceedings via camera.

In the morning, the jury selection took place. Since the jurisdiction belongs to a US court martial, the jury reserves the right to find guilty or not guilty, and the terms of a sentencing. Finally, 7 jurors were selected for the case at issue. 3 of the jurors are all active members of the Second Army with three officers and 4 regular solders.

In the afternoon, the defense attorneys and prosecutors submitted their exhibits to the court, which included photos and videotapes.

Peterson in his opening statement accused, "These two defendants did not act intentionally. But, they would have avoided the unfortunate accident if they had paid more attention. That is why the defendants are indicted on the charge of manslaughter."

The case regarding Nino will be wrapped up on Nov. 20th, following the Nov. 19th examination of the witnesses by the prosecution and the defense attorneys. The punishment, however, will not be severe since Nino is indicted for manslaughter.

Soon thereafter, another court martial will be held against Mark Walker, who drove the armored vehicle at the time of the accident. In the arraignment that took place on Sep. 24th, the two defendants pleaded not guilty.

In the meanwhile, 50 members of the civil rights groups waged a demonstration in front of Camp Casey, trying to make their way into the camp. They demanded, among other things, that the US court should hand over the jurisdiction of the cases to the Korean court. Also on hand was Kwon Young-kil, presidential candidate of the Democratic Labor Party.

On June 13th, this year, Nino and Walker ran into two Korean girls, Shin Hyo-soon (14) and Shim Mi-sun (14) in Hyochon Ri, Kwangjuk Myun, Yangjoo County, Kyunggi Province, while operating an armored vehicle on the route 56. Then, they were indicted on charge of manslaughter on July 5th.

argus@donga.com jefflee@donga.com