Korean police to revise handling of SOFA incidentsBy Nathan Schwartzman Dec 10, 2012 7:30AM UTC
Original article in Korean is at this link.
Korean police will now be able to complete a basic investigation of US soldiers arrested at the scene of a crime before handing them over to US authorities. The National Police Agency announced on the 9th that such rules will be in a “revised manual regarding incidents under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)” to be distributed to each provincial police agency and their front-line stations.
According to the revised manual, while in the past our police had to hand over a US soldier caught at the scene of a crime in cases not involving major offenses such as murder and rape, they will now have the right to complete their initial investigations first. In cases of murder and rape, our police can extend detention of suspects, and in 12 other crimes US authorities can be requested to refrain from an immediate turnover request. The rights of US government representatives and attorneys to participate in the investigatory process will be guaranteed.
Korean and US authorities have pledged to work together for further specific rules related to legal processes other than those involving military police. In July there was an incident in which US military police placed handcuffs on three of our citizens on the street in the Sinjang-dong district of Pyeongtaek near the Osan Airbase, giving rise to debate over the authority of US military police on offbase patrols. An official with the NPA said that “these revisions are aimed at preventing wrong acts by US military police and protecting our citizens’ human rights by clarifying certain things.”