COURT refuses bail for U.S. airman facing rape charge on Okinawa

Wednesday, July 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ A district court in Japan refused on Wednesday to set bail for U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Woodland, who is charged with raping a woman in Okinawa, Woodland's lawyer said.

Judge Midori Takamatsu of the Naha District Court rejected the bail request, saying Woodland might destroy evidence, according to defense lawyer Tsuyoshi Arakaki.

Arakaki asked the court on Tuesday to release Woodland, 24, on bail. He said he may appeal.

Woodland, who faces at least two years in prison if convicted, has denied raping the 20-year-old Japanese woman. Japan's Kyodo News agency has quoted Deputy Prosecutor Junichi Okumura as saying the sergeant insisted that the two had consensual sex.

Woodland's lawyer said he has not yet received a reply to a request he made on Monday, that the court allow American lawyer Annette Eddie-Callagain to join the defense team.

Under Japanese law, lawyers from foreign firms are barred from receiving payment for their work. Eddie-Callagain has said she would help defend Woodland without fee.

Okinawa, about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo, is home to more than half of the 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan.

Crime and pollution linked to the U.S. military have long been sensitive issues for Okinawa. Three U.S. servicemen raped a 12-year-old girl on Okinawa in 1995, sparking huge protests.