US soldier suspected of murder in Panama likely to face military justice

US soldier suspected of murder in Panama likely to face military justice

PANAMA CITY- A US soldier suspected of murdering a Panamanian woman will "most likely" face charges in a military court in the United States, a US military spokesman said on Sunday.

Master Sergeant Omar Velez is being held in pretrial confinement at the US Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but formal charges have not been filed against him, said Colonel William Bigelow, a spokesman for US Southern Command.

Velez was conducting trainings in Panama as part of the US Army Security Assistance Training Management Organisation, a unit generally associated with foreign sales of military equipment, Bigelow said by telephone.

He said Velez will probably face charges in US military courts. He emphasised that a final decision has not been made.

Panama's attorney general's office has not commented on the case.

Panamanian daily newspaper Critica has reported that Velez was apprehended as he was attempting to bury the body of the 26-year-old victim, with whom he was believed to have a romantic relationship.

The US Southern Command cannot confirm those details, spokeswoman Kimberly Hanson said.

The US Army "will fully investigate this tragedy and take any and all appropriate action," according to a statement issued late last week.

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