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Rape Case Against Four U.S. Marines Dropped

TOKYO (AP) - Prosecutors have dropped a case involving allegations that four U.S. Marines raped a 19-year-old woman in southwestern Japan, an official said Thursday.

Earlier this month, Hiroshima police decided not to arrest the Marines, saying there were discrepancies between their accounts and one given by the woman. Police had handed the case over to prosecutors to make a final decision on whether to continue an investigation.

The decision to drop the case ``was made in light of the evidence,'' an official at the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutors' Office quoted Deputy Prosecutor Keiichi Yamakawa as saying.

``In view of the nature of the case, we will refrain from offering specific reasons for dropping the case,'' added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of policy.

Police began their investigation after local media reported last month that the woman met the servicemen from the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station at a restaurant or bar in Hiroshima. The reports said the men drove the woman to a nearby parking lot where they allegedly raped and robbed her.

The names of those involved were not released.

About 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under a security pact between the two countries. Many Japanese complain of crime, pollution and noise associated with the bases.

The 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen in Okinawa sparked massive protests, as well as calls for a U.S. troop cut and greater discipline.
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