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Korea brings to Korean court more crimes involving U.S. soldiers

South Korea has brought to court more U.S. soldiers suspected of murder, rape and other serious crimes last year than the previous year, figures from the Justice Ministry showed Monday.

A Status of Forces Agreement between Seoul and Washington allows South Korean law enforcement authorities to try U.S. soldiers in cases in which they are suspected of having committed serious crimes.

The U.S. stations more than 28,000 American soldiers in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korean prosecutors indicted U.S. soldiers involved in 81 murders, rapes and 10 other serious crimes last year.

The figure represents 65.9 percent of the total 123 cases involving such serious crimes, up from 39.6 percent (59 out of 149 cases) the previous year.

Comparable statistics are 46.1 percent (78 out of 169) in 2008, 49.3 percent (73 out of 148) in 2009 and 61.8 percent (102 out of 165) in 2010.

"The figures show that domestic courts are trying the most serious crimes committed by U.S. soldiers," a ministry official said. "We are trying to apply the same punishment criteria as Koreans to the crimes of American soldiers involving violence and runaways after car accidents." (Yonhap News)
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