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 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.