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NAHA, Okinawa — An appeals court hearing for two U.S. Marines who were found guilty of mugging a 20-year-old Okinawa man in Ginowan last October began Thursday at the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch.

Cpl. Paul E. Mundell, 22, and Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Major, 25, both assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, faced proceedings in the appeals court for attacking the man near the air station.

Prosecutors sought eight-year prison terms for both Marines, saying they planned the attack and therefore were equally responsible for the assault and robbery.

In April, the Naha District Court sentenced Mundell to 3½ years in prison for assaulting the man and stealing 4,000 yen (about $36). The court gave Major a two-year prison term, which was suspended for three years, dismissing the prosecution’s argument that the attack was premeditated. The court accepted Major’s claim that he did not know Mundell had stolen a wallet from the victim while he was punching the man in the face.

The court said the two Marines conspired to attack the victim but not to rob him.

“The robbery was committed by Mundell alone,” a chief judge at the lower court said during a sentencing session.

The prosecution filed an appeal to the Fukuoka High Court in May.

During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutor Masahisa Yokota said that Mundell was in a position to order Major to be part of the robbery, according to Mundell’s defense attorney, Miyatomi Harushima.

Harushima said Yokota implied that Mundell had played a leading role and the two premeditated the assault.

“Mundell told the court that he was not in a position to give Major an order outside the workplace,” Harushima said. “In fact, it was not only Major who was with Mundell that night. There were many other details that they did not remember because they were too drunk.”

A judge for the lower court said that Mundell, Major and another Marine, who was with them but not charged, started drinking beer at their barracks room the evening of Oct. 22 before going to a pool hall near the air station. The Marines stayed there until 5 a.m., shortly before the assault occurred.

Harushima said Yokota argued during Thursday’s hearing that Mundell and Major had spent all the money they had with them that evening. Yokota also said they had no intention, or even means, to go to an ATM on Kadena Air Base, near the second bar where they planned to continue their drinking spree, Harushima said.

“The prosecution said that it was extremely difficult to find a taxi that goes on base so early in the morning,” Harushima said. “It was wrong. If they needed cash, there was a way for them to go to an ATM on Kadena,” he said, refuting the prosecution’s claim that the Marines planned the attack to rob the victim.

The next hearing is set for Nov. 2.

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