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U.S. Offers Koreans Compensation

July 22, 2002

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ The U.S. military has agreed to pay $162,500 to each family of two teenagers fatally struck by a U.S. armored vehicle, South Korea said Monday.

Family members of the 14-year-old girls were not immediately available for comment on whether they would accept the compensation offer.

Sgt. Mark Walker and Sgt. Fernando Nino were on a training mission near the border with North Korea on June 13 when their armored bridge carrier allegedly struck and killed the girls on a public road. The U.S. military said the men had been indicted on charges of negligent homicide.

Hyon Sang-soo, a spokesman South Korea’s Justice Ministry, said the ministry had proposed the $162,500 compensation offer and that the U.S. military command in Seoul agreed.

Officials at the U.S. military command could not immediately confirm the report.

Under a bilateral defense agreement, the U.S. military covers 75 percent of compensation payment for damages caused by its troops while on duty. The South Korean government pays 25 percent.

Gen. Leon LaPorte, who commands the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, said early this month that the U.S. Army accepted full responsibility for the ``tragic accident.″

Walker and Nino could face up to six years in prison if convicted of negligent homicide charges in a U.S. military court in South Korea.

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