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U.S. Olympic Swimmers To Be Allowed To Go Home

September 29, 1988 GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Two U.S. Olympic swimmers who allegedly stole a marble carving from a hotel while celebrating gold medals won’t be charged and can go home this week because they apologized, sources said today.

Prosecution sources, who declined to be identified, said the case would be dropped and the two swimmers and a third American involved would be allowed to leave South Korea on Friday.

″I understand the case would be dropped, because the Americans each wrote a statement repenting what they did,″ the source said.

Troy Dalbey and Doug Gjertsen, who won two Olympic gold medals each in Seoul, were questioned by police for allegedly stealing an $830 decoration from a Seoul hotel on Saturday.

A third American, Ernest Mangum, who identified himself as a friend of the two swimmers, was also questioned. The three publicly apologized for the incident Tuesday.

Police sent the case to the prosecution Wednesday and said Dalbey and Mangum admitted that they had removed the decoration, but investigations showed Gjertsen was not involved in the antics.

The three Americans were questioned again by the prosecution today, a procedure required under Korean law before making a decision on whether to indict or drop a case.

The case received wide publicity in Korea. Anti-U.S. sentiment is rising among South Koreans because of a series of incidents involving U.S. athletes and media.

American athletes were criticized for marching disorderly during the opening ceremoy of the Seoul Olympics.

The NBC television network also came under fire for what critics among the Games’ hosts termed its ″biased″ coverage of a boxing match during which South Korean sports officials attacked a referee.