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AF mum on service member in confinement

Jan. 2, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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The Air Force is refusing to identify a service member who is in pre-trial confinement in connection with the death of a U.S. sailor in Germany.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov was declared dead by German medical authorities on Dec. 14. He was found unresponsive in a privately owned vehicle in Kaiserslautern.

Air Force Office of Special Investigations spokeswoman Linda Card told Air Force Times on Dec. 19 that a service member had been taken into custody in connection with Chepusov’s death, but OSI had not yet received jurisdiction from German authorities.

Card on Dec. 31 said German authorities were still leading the investigation into the incident, but a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Kaiserslautern said the case came under the U.S. military’s purview under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement between Germany and NATO.

“It is a case where the American authorities have priority because the victim is an American soldier [sic.],” Udo Gehring said in a Jan. 2 interview.

Card then referred questions about the service member in custody to the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, but a wing spokesman said he could not provide any information about the service member because the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“We can’t and won’t discuss the case under investigation because we don’t want to affect or prejudice it,” Maj. Tony Wickman said in a Jan. 2 email. “As a matter of policy, we don’t release information about anyone under investigation out of respect for their privacy and to protect the integrity of the investigation.

“At this time, no one has been charged with anything. OSI, in conjunction with base and local law enforcement and legal officials, are working to resolve this case. No details will be made available until the completion of the investigation, and only information that is releasable to the public.”

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