UPDATE: Just to further blow holes in the belief that US soldiers can get away with crimes in Korea and hide on base from Korean authorities, USFK has now allowed the police to interview the pellet gun bandit that is still in the hospital on Yongsan Garrison after being shot:
SEOUL — South Korean police took the unusual step of going on base to interview a U.S. soldier in his hospital bed Tuesday about his involvement in a high-speed car chase that led to officers shooting him.
A half-dozen South Koreans arrived in a police van at the Brian Allgood Community Hospital, where doctors cleared him for the interview. The soldier, a private first class stationed at Yongsan who was shot in the upper body, was listed in stable condition. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but the female who is the wife of the Staff Sergeant the Stars and Stripes confirmed is a corporal, so that makes all three of these idiots GIs. The article also includes a statement from a Korean policeman who believes that they should not have to file paperwork to interview American soldiers in accordance with the SOFA. I just wish that one time that an S&S reporter would ask one of these SOFA complainers if they believe that authorities in countries where ROK troops are stationed should be able to grab their soldiers whenever they feel like it for questioning with no SOFA process? The SOFA process allows USFK to make sure the person the police want to question has a translator and lawyer available during questioning to protect their rights since they are not familiar with the ROK judicial system and do not understand the language. Even idiots like this Pellet Gun Trio who are obviously guilty of various crimes deserve to have due process.
Original: In compliance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) USFK handed over one of the two GI Pellet Gun Bandits over to the Korean police today. The 2nd GI is still in the hospital at Yongsan Garrison where Korean police may question him there instead:
Two U.S. soldiers presented themselves to Korean police Monday over allegedly threatening civilians with an air rifle on Saturday night and Sunday morning in Itaewon, police said.
A 26-year-old sergeant, identified by police as “Lopez,” presented himself under escort at 2 p.m. to Yongsan Police Station in Seoul.
Sgt. Lopez was quizzed over whether he and two colleagues fired an air gun on the street near the Hamilton Hotel and why he ran away after police approached them.
A second suspect identified by police as “Wendy” appeared at the station later to also answer questions.
Police delayed summoning the third suspect, identified by them as a 23-year-old private first class named “Dixon,” as he was in a military hospital after being shot in the shoulder during a car chase through Seoul.
According to police, Dixon told U.S. military police he was shot by an Arab but police have asked the U.S. Army to hand over the bullet he was wounded with as evidence, as they believe it was fired by a policeman.
The three soldiers fled in an Optima sedan after refusing to cooperate with police officers who had been dispatched to Itaewon Subway Station after receiving calls that American soldiers were threatening civilians with an air rifle. [Korea Times]
The “Wendy” in the article is reportedly the Staff Sergeant’s wife and according to other reports not a GI. Here is what really gets me in this article is how the Korea Times continues to perpetuate that all these USFK soldiers are getting away with crimes and there is nothing Korea can do about it because of the SOFA:
It is uncertain whether the police will be able to hold them accountable for the crimes given past record. According to data from the prosecutors’ office, 6.1 percent of 344 crimes alleged against U.S. servicemen here were indicted in 2011.
In July last year, seven U.S. military police officers at a camp in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province were investigated for allegedly handcuffing three civilians over a parking dispute near the camp. However, the investigation of the suspects has made no progress, with none of the suspects indicted yet, according to police.
I have made this challenge before and no one has been able to prove me wrong, but I would like the Korea Times to name one incident where USFK did not hand over a servicemember accused of a crime in Korea when requested by the Korean authorities? The Osan Handcuff Scandal they cited shows their lack of SOFA knowledge because the Air Force SPs were on official duty at the time the incident happened and thus not subject to being arrested by Korean authorities. If a soldier is off duty and commits a crime off-post, the Korean authorities can request jurisdiction and USFK will hand the servicemember over. It happens all the time. Check the USFK Court Martial and ROK Criminal Prosecution postings that I regularly publish on this site.
As far as the statistics cited, being accused of a crime does not mean you are guilty of the crime. I know for Chinboistas and the anti-USFK crowd any accusation against a US servicemember means he/she must be guilty, but if a servicemember is accused of doing something criminal and the Korean police request he/she be handed over, USFK authorities will hand the person over. I can’t say this enough, but it happens all the time. Something else these so called statistics do not tell you is how many of these alleged crimes the Korean police decided not to prosecute because they let USFK handle it? I have seen in the past the Korean police let the military handle incidents off post that only involve GIs and not any Koreans. Examples are two GIs fighting amongst each other, being drunk and disorderly in public, or urinating on buildings. They did not harm any Koreans and it is less paperwork for the Korean police if they let USFK handle it. Then you also have the unpaid parking ticket trick that are used to inflate statistics so pretty much the numbers the Korea Times presented are absolutely worthless without specific examples of what the 344 alleged crimes are.
- Further Reading: GI Myths: The Unfair US-Korea SOFA
This distorted line of thinking that USFK will not hand over servicemembers in compliance with the SOFA has even infected a very smart person over at the “Ask A Korean” blog:
So, to reiterate: a foreign army is occupying the middle of the city, and some of them are dumbasses who were threatening civilians with guns, engaged in a late night car chase, tried to kill a police man and got away with only injuring him in the process. And Koreans cannot do anything about it unless USFK voluntarily turns the soldiers over, and good luck getting that to happen. [Ask A Korean]
It is interesting that within hours USFK proved “The Korean” wrong and handed the suspects over like they always do when requested. So once again I would like someone to name an incident where a servicemember committed a crime off-duty and off-post and USFK refused to hand them over in compliance with the SOFA?