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Hearing Reopens for U.S. Soldier

April 12, 2000

VILSECK, Germany (AP) _ A U.S. Army sergeant accused of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl while stationed in Kosovo faced another hearing today to determine if he will be court-martialed.

It is the first time a peacekeeper from any country has been accused of such serious crimes since the 50,000-strong NATO-led force entered the Yugoslav province June 12.

Staff Sgt. Frank J. Ronghi, 35, originally was charged with premeditated murder and indecent acts with a child on Jan. 16, three days after the ethnic Albanian girl’s death.

A hearing was held in the Kosovo town of Urosevac on Feb. 18 to determine if enough evidence existed to try him by court martial. But the U.S. Army said additional charges of felony murder, rape, and sodomy had been filed against Ronghi, requiring a continuation.

The hearing today was to take place at Vilseck, near the Czech border in rural upper Bavaria state, where the 1st Infantry Division unit that Ronghi was assigned to in Kosovo is based.

Results of the hearing will be turned over to the 1st Infantry Division to determine if he will face a court martial.

Ronghi could be sentenced to death under U.S. military law if convicted of murder.

Ronghi, of Niles, Ohio, is a weapons squad leader assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of Fort Bragg, N.C., but was sent to work with U.S. forces from Germany serving in Kosovo.

He has been held since January at the U.S. Army’s Confinement Facility in Mannheim, near Frankfurt.

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