Korean prosecutors reviewing assault charges against two U.S. soldiers
SEOUL — The Seoul Central Prosecutors Office is reviewing assault charges against two U.S. soldiers accused of beating a taxi driver in a public bathroom on Nov. 17, officials confirmed Wednesday.
South Korean police forwarded the charges earlier this month and prosecutors must now decide whether the soldiers will face trial, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
She was unable to predict when a decision would be made.
The soldiers, 18-year-old Anthony Justin Faulkner and 20-year-old Justin Ronald Brown, belong to the 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
The driver, 51-year-old Baek Gwang-yong, said the soldiers brutally attacked him without reason in the Itaewon entertainment district near Yongsan Garrison.
He suffered a ruptured eye, broken nose and broken cheekbone in the attack.
During an interview in his hospital room about a week after the incident, Baek said he thought the soldiers were going to kill him.
“It is not an assault case, but an attempted murder case,” said Baek. “Now I am just thankful to God that I am alive.”
Police said the soldiers admitted to attacking the driver after he verbally assaulted them, something Baek denies.
Baek said he was standing at the urinal when one of the soldiers assaulted him by placing him in a headlock. Choking and unable to breathe, Baek said he lost consciousness.
He said he came to after being smashed into a door and dragged into a toilet stall.
The soldiers fled to Yongsan Garrison after an older woman, who heard the commotion, entered the bathroom, Baek said.
The U.S. military turned the soldiers over to South Korean police for questioning the next morning.
“U.S. Army investigators will work closely with Korean authorities to ascertain all of the facts,” U.S. Forces Korea officials have stated.
“The 19th ESC takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and, therefore, this investigation will receive the fullest cooperation and support.”