US soldier jailed for rape in South Korea

A US soldier of the 2nd Infantry Division located in Dongducheon arrives at a court in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul October 1, 2011 The judge said the soldier had carried out a violent and abnormal assault

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A US soldier based in South Korea has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping a teenager near his base.

The 21-year-old broke into the studio room of the woman and carried out a sexual attack lasting several hours, threatening her with scissors.

The judge called it a "violent and abnormal assault".

The sentence was one of the longest given to a US soldier in South Korea. US government and military officials have apologised publicly for the rape.

Crimes committed by US soldiers in the past have sparked public protests against the American military presence in South Korea.

The soldier, whose name has not been made public, attacked the 18-year-old in the early hours of 24 September.

He broke into her room near the his base in Dongducheon city.

The court said the soldier had also stolen 5,000 won ($4.50; £2.80) from the woman before he fled.

"He deserves a stern punishment as there were no efforts to compensate the victim or remedy the assault," said the judge.

America has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea - a legacy from the 1950-53 Korean War.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul says much of the public anger over their presence surrounds the question of who has jurisdiction to try them in criminal cases.

The military pact between the two countries states that America has jurisdiction to try its South Korea-based soldiers.

But military officials say in recent years they have honoured every request from the South Korean authorities to try American personnel accused of serious crimes, our correspondent adds.

The heaviest sentence handed down by a South Korean court was for a US soldier convicted of murder in the early 1990s. He was jailed for life, but later had his sentenced commuted and was freed in 2006.

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