Ex-US base worker gets life in jail

03 December, 2017, 00:58 | Author: Ora Austin
  • The Naha District Court before Kenneth Franklin Shinzato was sentenced to life imprisonment on Dec. 1

An Okinawa district court has sentenced a former civilian worker at a U.S. military base to life imprisonment for killing a Japanese woman in April of past year, the NHK broadcaster reported.

The case sparked outrage on the southern Japanese island where residents have long complained about heavy US military presence and crimes linked to them.

He confessed to the rape of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro on April 28 last year, as well as the subsequent abandonment of her body, but fought the murder charge, claiming he did not intend to kill.

According to the indictment, Shinzato attacked the woman for the goal of raping her on a road in Uruma at around 10 p.m. on April 28, 2016.

Shinzato was a civilian working for an Internet company at the Kadena Air Base at the time of the attack after serving as a Marine from 2007 to 2014.

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Presiding Judge Toshihiro Shibata read out the guilty verdict and the sentence handed to Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, in the lay judge trial at the Naha District Court. Her body was found three weeks later.

Crimes committed by American service members around the base at Okinawa have always been a source of tension between the two nations.

The killing, which drew the attention of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, overshadowed Barack Obama's trip to the country past year, during which he visited Hiroshima. A breath test showed he was up to three times over the legal limit for alcohol, Reuters reported.

Shinzato, born Kenneth Gadson but often referred to by his wife's name, was a U.S. Marine stationed in Japan before becoming a civilian contractor for the massive American military base there.

According to The New York Times, the incident ignited widespread anger among people on Okinawa, shaking an already volatile situation surrounding the stationing of about 47,000 American troops on the island.

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