U.S. Officer Negligent In Accidental Bombing Of Ship, Report Says
TOKYO (AP) _ The Maritime Safety Agency said Monday it suspects a U.S. Navy airman was negligent in the 1987 accidental bombing of a Malaysian-registered ship in which a crew member was seriously injured.
An official said the agency, Japan’s coast guard, sent a report of its investigation Monday to Japanese public prosecutors.
The report said Lt. Michael J. Foster was taking part in air exercises off Okinawa on July 27, 1987, that involved dropping non-explosive practice bombs on a target, the official said.
Bombs from his airplane twice hit the 5,922-ton Malaysian ship Pomex-Saga, badly injuring the arm of a Filipino crewman, the agency official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Foster mistook the ship for his intended target and neglected to confirm its identity with radar, he quoted the report as saying.
Under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, Japan cannot prosecute members of the U.S. military who violate Japanese laws while on duty, and Foster has not been indicted, the official said.
The official said U.S. military officials, who have jurisdiction in the case, had not yet confirmed the report’s findings.
On Monday, the U.S. military paid $10,000 in partial compensation to the injured crewman, identified as Arturo Roca, Kyodo News Service reported.
Foster’s home town was not immediately available, and attempts to contact U.S. military officals for comment Monday night proved unavailing.