CEOL
US soldier charged with murder of Kosovo girl faces US military court

BERLIN, Apr 6, 2000 -- (AFP) A US soldier charged with raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl in Kosovo will appear before a US military court in Germany as part of hearings to decide if he should be tried, a US army spokesman told AFP Thursday.

Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi will appear Wednesday at the Rose Barracks at a US military base in Vilseck in southern Germany, spokesman Jim Boyle said by telephone from US command headquarters in Heidleberg.

He said Ronghi has already been charged by US authorities with murder, indecent acts with a child, felony murder, rape, and sodomy.

He said that there would probably be telephone interviews with witnesses in Kosovo on Wednesday and "the hearing officer will then use that information to complete his report" and provide that to another officer for him to determine whether there should be a court-martial hearing, Boyle said.

Ronghi, 35, is charged with sexually assaulting and murdering the ethnic Albanian girl.

Her body was found on January 13 near Vitina in southeast Kosovo.

Ronghi was formally charged with indecent acts with a child and premeditated murder on January 16 before being flown to a central US military jail in Mannheim, Germany.

Additional charges were preferred in March, Boyle said.

If committed to trial, Ronghi could face a court martial in Kosovo, in Germany or in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where his 504th parachute regiment is based.

The location of the trial could also depend on planned troop rotations which could see witnesses shipped to US military bases in Germany or the United States.



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