Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Former Marine gets life in prison for rape

Former Marine gets life in prison for rape

Kenneth Shinzato (pictured in 2016) was convicted on Friday in Okinawa.

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A court sentenced a former USA base worker to life in prison on Friday for the April 2016 rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in Okinawa.

The case sparked public anger and further strengthened anti-base sentiment in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of USA military facilities in Japan and must deal with any crimes committed by their servicemen or related personnel.

The US military base in the Okinawa Prefecture, which is located on a tiny island in the south of the Japanese archipelago, hosts the vast majority of US troops stationed in the country.

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He confessed to the rape of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro on April 28 last year, as well as the subsequent abandonment of her body, but fought the murder charge, claiming he did not intend to kill.

He admitted raping the young woman, with jailhouse interviews obtained by Stars and Stripes saying that voices in his head told him that she was the victim he had been waiting for.

Prosecutors said Shinzato "stabbed the victim in the neck with a knife three or four times and struck her with a bar on the back of her head between five and 10 times", adding that this meant "he had intent to kill the victim".

The case also sparked outrage among government officials, who raised the case during a visit by then-President Barack Obama a year ago for a Group of 7 summit meeting.

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Shimabukuro's death sparked outrage on Okinawa and throughout Japan, where there is the lingering memory of a girl raped by three American servicemembers in 1995.

Last month, United States marine Nicholas James-McLean, 21, was arrested after his truck collided with a vehicle driven by 61-year-old Hidemasa Taira.

Alcohol was banned for all servicemembers in Japan after the November 19 death, though those restrictions were loosened Thursday to allow soldiers to drink in their homes.

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