Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Jenkins receives lighter sentence

DPA , TOKYO

US Army Sergeant Charles Jen-kins was given a 30-day confinement and dishonorable discharge from the military for deserting to North Korea in 1965 while serving in South Korea, the US Army said yesterday, according to the Jap-anese news agency Kyodo.

The final sentence was determined after examining a pretrial agreement and a sentence given by a military judge, which was six months of confinement and a dishonorable discharge, Kyodo reported.

At a court-martial hearing held earlier in the day at the US Army Camp Zama near Tokyo, prosecutors had asked for a nine-month jail term.

The case has drawn huge public attention in Japan due to Jenkins' Japanese wife Hitomi Soga, who was kidnapped by North Korea in 1978 and returned to Japan in 2002 along with four other Japanese abductees, after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang.

Jenkins and their two daughters remained in North Korea. Finally, in July, the family was reunited.

The military judge also told the hearing she found the 64-year-old sergeant guilty of aiding the enemy by teaching North Koreans English.

But the judge dismissed char-ges of encouraging disloyalty and of soliciting other personnel to desert.

"I wanted to be discharged to my civilian life," Jenkins, in uniform, told the hearing.

He said that he deserted because he wanted to avoid duty on the Korean peninsula and Vietnam, in a voice often cracking with emotion.

Jenkins wants to live with Soga and their two North Korea-born daughters in Sado, Niigata prefecture, Soga's hometown.

He turned himself over to Camp Zama, Kanagawa prefecture, on Sept. 11. Soga and her daughters Mika, 21, and Brinda, 19, accompanied Jenkins and are staying in the camp with him.

"My husband and I did not like North Korea," Soga, 45, said in her testimony, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

"Now I only wish we would get family's small happiness to become bigger and bigger," he said.

Jenkins and Soga married in North Korea in 1980.

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