A former United States military base worker has reportedly been sentenced to life in prison for raping and killing a Japanese woman on the island of Okinawa in Japan.
According to local media outlet NHK, 33-year-old Kenneth Franklin Shinzato was found guilty by Naha District Court for killing 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro in April last year.
Shinzato served in the marines from 2007 to 2014, but was a civilian working for a contract company on Kadena Air Base at the time of the murder, which occured on the road in Uruma at around 10 p.m. on April 28, 2016.
Based on the indictment, Shinzato stabbed Shimabukuro in the neck with a knife and then hit her on the head with a bar before raping her. The victim’s remains were found on May 19 in a wooded area in the village of Onna, north of Uruma.
According to statements, Shinzato, who’s real surname is Gadson, but goes by his Japanese wife’s last name, dealt with suicidal thoughts, fantasied about kidnapping, retraining and raping women “throughout my high school and adult years.” Shinzato plead guilty to raping Shimabukuro and abandoning her body, but denied an intent to murder.
The case has sparked widespread outrage on the island, where the presence of US military bases has been highly condemned by locals.
The incident also ignited renewed calls for the US bases to be removed entirely. Current figures show that there are about 50,000 US nationals on Okinawa and a great majority of them are military personnel and civilians employed at the bases, ABC reports.
Last year, the US government agreed to limit legal protection and benefits to military personnel in Japan under a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which has been in place since 1960. Under SOFA, US personnel were previously exempted from requiring visas while in Japan, making it possible for the US military to ship offenders back to America before Japanese police can apprehend and investigate suspects.
Just last month a US personnel accidentally killed a local man while driving under the influence of alcohol. After Okinawa citizens expressed anger over the incident, the US military banned drinking alcohol for its American personnel in Japan.
Feature image via Linked