2nd GI Is Acquitted of Girls’ Death in S. Korea
A U.S. military jury acquitted an American soldier of negligent homicide charges Friday, five months after the vehicle he was driving on a training mission struck and killed two South Korean girls.
The acquittal of Sgt. Mark Walker followed Wednesday’s acquittal of the vehicle’s commander, Sgt. Fernando Nino, on the same charges
Dozens of activists hurled eggs and paint bottles into Camp Casey, the U.S. military base north of Seoul where the trial took place, while the jury deliberated for 4 1/2 hours Friday. The demonstrators called the trial a sham.
Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell, commander of the 8th U.S. Army, appealed to South Koreans to trust the judgment of the jury panels.
“Taken together, the verdicts in the two trials that were rendered by two different impartial panels indicate that what occurred was a tragic accident without criminal culpability,” he said.
He reiterated his “apology and deepest sympathies” to the victims’ families. “This was a tragic loss of life and we are deeply sorry,” he said.
Walker and Nino, who belong to the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division, were on a training mission June 13 near the border with North Korea when their mine-clearing vehicle struck Shim Mi Son and Shin Hyo Sun, both 14.
The vehicle was going uphill and around a bend in a rural area when it hit the girls.
Walker had faced up to six years in prison if convicted.
Since Nino’s acquittal Wednesday, South Korean political parties have called for revising a U.S.-South Korean military accord on jurisdiction in cases involving U.S. soldiers.
Currently, the U.S. military has jurisdictional rights over American soldiers accused of crimes while on duty, though it can allow South Korea to try them on a case-by-case basis.