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Guam police arrest suspect in memorial theft


The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jul 7, 2007 8:17:26 EDT

HAGATNA, Guam — Guam police on Friday arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion he stole brass panels from a World War II memorial.

Police also recovered seven of the 34 panels that were pried off their concrete base at the Asan Bay Overlook in War of the Pacific National Park the day before.

The police arrested the man on charges of property theft, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

A tip to Guam Crime Stoppers from a scrapyard that bought the panels led to the arrest. Police found the man fishing near Dead Mans Curve in Asan and arrested him shortly after.

Kevin Guerrero, an officer with the Guam Police Department, said the case remains under investigation.

Scrapyard officials could not be reached for comment late Friday.

The memorial wall features the names of more than 16,000 Chamorros, the indigenous people of Guam, who were tortured or killed during the Japanese occupation of the island. It also honors more than 2,500 U.S. servicemen who died in Guam’s liberation.

About one-third of the 99 panels, with the names of thousands of Chamorros and U.S. troops, were stolen.

Yards of black cloth were draped over the bare areas of the memorial wall on Friday.

The incident prompted an outcry on Guam, where families tell of beatings, forced labor, beheadings, rapes and other atrocities endured after Japan invaded the island a few days after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

The theft came as Guam prepared to mark Liberation Day, the annual celebration marking the moment U.S. forces defeated Japanese troops and retook the island on July 21, 1944.

The anniversary features a parade and is one of the biggest events of the year on the island.

Like other communities, Guam has suffered from a rash of copper thefts in recent years as the price of the metal has jumped on global markets. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.



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