– The Hani reports that the female soldier, a 22-year-old corporal, testified to the cops that she is the one who shot the BBs in Itaewon. She said she did so for fun. The guy who owned the car, the staff sergeant, apparently carried in his car three BB guns, which were purchased in Itaewon last year. Anyway, there is now suspicion that the three may have regularly shot BBs at locals for fun. The cops think the other two shot BBs that evening, too, but they deny it so far. And yeah, the two corporals are saying the staff sergeant was the driver, and the staff sergeant is saying the corporal who got shot was driving.
– The Kyunghyang Shinmun notes that while the number of US troops in Korea have decreased from 39,997 in 2004 to 28,500 currently, the number of crimes committed by GIs has increased from 324 to 379. 2011 was an especially bad year with 456. The secretary general of the National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S.Troops in Korea told the Kyunghyang that the number of crimes committed by GIs decrease when public opinion turns south, indicating that if USFK authorities properly control their men, they can reduce the number of crimes. Personally, I’m skeptical of whatever the National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S.Troops in Korea says, and I’m guessing a substantial amount of the increase in crime comes from USFK’s relaxation of driving restrictions in 2008. That said, yeah, it seems that angry Koreans=fewer GI crimes, which suggests USFK can improve off-base discipline when it wants to.
– MBC ran an interview with a HUFS professor to discuss the SOFA. As expected, he complained that the Korea—US SOFA is not as favorable to Korea as America’s SOFA agreements with Japan and NATO countries—he cites that other SOFAs make it easier for local cops to take possession of suspects that flee onto US bases, and the SOFA with Japan allows cops to interrogate suspects even without the presence of a US military official. However, the professor also noted that the Korea—US SOFA includes “excessive privileged” for defendants, including protections against prosecutors appealing acquittals. It’s a longish interview that probably deserves a fuller summary, but I think that point is important because I can’t see any way USFK allows its men to be subject to double jeopardy. Making it easier for the Korean cops to take possession and detain GI suspects is another matter, though, and frankly, I’d have no problem even allowing Korean cops the right to ‘hot pursuit.”
– And indeed, Korean government officials are now saying they will begin discussions with the United States, possibly from the end of this month, to revise the SOFA to make it easier for Korean police to detain GI suspects and expanding the number of crimes subject to transfer at indictment. They Koreans also want to reduce the scope of what constitutes USFK’s “execution of duties,” mostly because of last year’s incident in Osan in which USFK MPs handcuffed local civilians. That matter is being delayed because the MPs are claiming this happened while they were on duty, giving USFK primary jurisdiction.