ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on July 13th, 2012 at 4:37 am

Soldier Convicted For Itaewon Fire But Receives Suspended Sentence

The Hooker Hill Fire Incident has always been a strange GI crime case that fortunately for the soldier involved he will not be seeing any jail time for:

A U.S. soldier allegedly started a fire on Tuesday morning inside Tiger Tavern, a club on Itaewon’s Hooker Hill, that spread to three adjacent businesses, all shown here.

A soldier accused of burning down a “Hooker Hill” brothel last fall was allowed to walk free Friday after judges ruled he was guilty of gross negligence in starting the fire but had not done so intentionally.

The Seoul Central District Court gave Pfc. Marcos Pedraza-Pascual a one-year suspended sentence, meaning he is essentially on probation. A prosecutor had recommended three years in prison.

The soldier testified during the trial that he was drunk and accidentally knocked over a candle that was sitting on a mattress in the Tiger Tavern, starting the fire last Nov. 15 that caused about $71,000 in damage to three buildings in the Itaewon district’s Hooker Hill area, long known for prostitution.

“When you drink too much, that’s what happens,” Pedraza-Pascual told reporters Friday.

He also said other people had told him the South Korean judges “were just going to be racist and send me to prison” and that he was grateful to them for listening to his version of events.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link but what really helped Pedraza-Pascual is that the bar owner did not want him punished because she thought it was an accident.   The cynic in me thinks that the bar owner was probably happy with her insurance payout and thus had no reason to see this guy go to jail.

Something else of interest in the article is that the soldier was blaming the curfew for the reason why he was binge drinking.  This case also serves as yet another perfect example of why people should stay out of off limits establishments in order to avoid getting wrapped up in an incident like this.

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  • johnhenr
    6:05 am on July 13th, 2012 1

    Oh, he’ll be going to jail over this incident. He just won’t be going to a Korean jail. Now that the IHFA (“In Hands Foreign civil Authorities”) case is concluded, his US military commander will conduct a court-martial. The man is certainly guilty of violations of US military law. He’s even admitted it as he’s used his violation of military law as an excuse for the fire.

  • Matt
    10:30 am on July 13th, 2012 2

    @1-yah, you’re right…he’ll be getting punished.

    On another point, what does the curfew have to do with being in an off-limits establishment? I’ll have to relook the history of this case to try and draw a tenuous connection between those two…

  • 코리
    1:41 pm on July 13th, 2012 3

    Probably about the best result one could hope for the guy. I was always amused about that “causing $71,000 of damage” to a building that was apparently already scheduled for demolition. Personal opinion is that he probably accidentally caused a small fire that could have easily been put out, but the owner saw her opportunity and just walked away.

  • Leon LaPorte
    3:05 pm on July 13th, 2012 4

    3. I think we have a winner!

    /thread over

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    4:45 pm on July 13th, 2012 5

    Or – ajumma is now giving the private his pay-off for helping her scam the insurance money… :lol:

  • Tom
    7:44 pm on July 13th, 2012 6

    GI Paper states:

    “He also said other people had told him the South Korean judges “were just going to be racist and send me to prison” and that he was grateful to them for listening to his version of events”

    Let me guess who told him this garbage. Tbonetyler, or Dreamboat Annie, or USINKOREA, or any one of the victim complex GI’s who think white people in Korea are bound in feet with chains and whipped on the streets.


  • Tom
    7:48 pm on July 13th, 2012 7

    It will take an extraordinary circumstances for white people to end up in Korean prisons. Foreigners get preferentially treated with kid gloves.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    8:10 pm on July 13th, 2012 8

    5- There’s no way he’s smart enough to have been in on any deal like that.
    6- Take your meds. No one has ever defended this numbskull.


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