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U.S. Navy sailor gets 30-month sentence for Okinawa rape

  • KYODO NEWS VIA AP

    Protesters hold placards that read: “Our anger has reached its limit” during a protest rally against the presence of U.S. military bases on the southwestern island of Okinawa in Naha, Okinawa on June 19 as many of them wearing black to mourn the rape and killing of a local woman in which a former U.S. Marine is a suspect.

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    A peace activist holds a sign that says “Get out! Marines” as vehicles pass Camp Schwab near Naga, Okinawa, Japan on May 30. The arrest of an American military contractor and Marine veteran in connection with the killing of a young Okinawan woman led to an outcry so strong that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested publicly to President Barack Obama during the president’s recent trip to Japan.

TOKYO » A U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in prison for raping a Japanese tourist in Okinawa, the southern island that is home to about half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

Justin Castellanos, 24, was sentenced Friday in district court in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, according to Japanese media reports.

The sailor took the woman to his hotel room and raped her after finding her asleep in the hallway in the early hours of March 13, Kyodo News service said, citing the ruling.

His arrest, and that of an American military contractor on charges of raping and killing a 20-year-old woman, have inflamed anti-U.S. base sentiment on Okinawa. Kenneth Shinzato, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in May after the woman’s body was found in a wooded area.

Tens of thousands of people rallied last month against the presence of U.S. military bases, many wearing black to mourn the dead woman.

A major focus of the protest was a plan agreed to by the Japanese and U.S. governments to move a Marine Corps air station to a less-populated part of Okinawa. Opponents want the base moved off the island entirely.

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  • Castellanos got off light with a 30-month sentence by a Japanese court. Had he been tried by a US military court martial, he probably would have gotten 30 years in jail. He now needs to be reduced to the lowest enlisted rank, forfeit all pay and allowances, and be immediately discharged dishonorably from the Navy. If that can’t be done administratively by the Secretary of the Navy, the US Navy should do it by a general court marital.

  • That is a surprisingly light sentence in “anti-U.S. military” Okinawa. The average sentence in the U.S. for rape is around 10 years. Of course, in the U.S., they usually get out much earlier on parole.

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