By Robert Burns, AP Military Writer

February 3, 2000



WASHINGTON – The Army is holding out the possibility that some Korean War veterans could face criminal prosecution if investigators find they participated in alleged mass killings of South Korean civilians. 

    Army Secretary Louis Caldera said Wednesday it was too early in the investigation to say whether prosecutions were likely or whether the U.S. government would compensate South Korean survivors or families of the victims.  "We certainly are prepared to recommend to the Secretary of Defense and to the president that our country do the right thing if it is shown that U.S. soldiers did something that was inappropriate," he said. 

    Drawing a parallel to war crimes trials following World War II, Caldera told The Associated Press, "We don’t want to set a double standard."  Caldera said Army investigators so far have questioned a few dozen U.S. veterans from units that were in the area at the time of the alleged killings, but have not yet talked to those who told the AP last year that a large number of South Korean refugees were gunned down at the hamlet of Nogun-ri. 

    Before the AP report, which was based on ex-soldiers’ statements as well as declassified U.S. government documents, both U.S. and South Korean officials had insisted there was no evidence to support the claims.  After the report, however, both the Defense Department and South Korea launched investigations. 

    Caldera said the Army needs to investigate further before deciding whether criminal prosecutions are warranted.  "We have not ruled that out," he said.