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Soldier accused of swiping taxi after punching driver

SEOUL, South Korea — An Eighth Army soldier was arrested over the weekend for allegedly punching a taxi driver, stealing his cab and driving under the influence of alcohol after curfew, according to U.S. and South Korean authorities.

The soldier, identified by Yangju police as a 34-year-old staff sergeant stationed at Camp Jackson, was returning to the base from Dongducheon when he punched his taxi driver around 1:45 a.m.

The driver had asked the soldier to take another taxi after a minor accident with a motor scooter, police said. The soldier drove the taxi approximately 1.25 miles before he was caught by South Korean police around 2 a.m.

The soldier had a 0.122 percent blood-alcohol level, well above South Korea’s legal limit of 0.05 percent. Drivers with a 0.1 percent or higher can lose their license for one or two years, a Yangju detective said. He did not know the extent of the taxi driver’s injuries.

The soldier was turned over to U.S. military police. Eighth Army spokesman Col. Shawn Stroud said he is in the custody of his unit commander while South Korean police and U.S. authorities investigate the incident.

The Eighth Army declined to release further information about the soldier’s identity, citing the ongoing investigation.

Yangju police are scheduled to question the soldier Thursday. South Korea’s Yonhap News reported that he could face charges of beating, drunken driving and robbery. He could face additional military punishment for violating U.S. Forces Korea’s 1 a.m.-5 a.m. off-post curfew.

Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux said in a statement Tuesday that the military will cooperate fully in the Korean police investigation and is “committed to ensuring our soldiers obey Korean laws and U.S. military regulations” with “fair and proper punishment” for violations.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rowland_Stripes

chang.yookyong@stripes.com

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