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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two servicemembers being held as suspects in the early January armed robbery of an Okinawa cabbie here will remain in military custody until indicted, Marines have announced.

In a brief statement issued to the media late Wednesday, Marine officials said the two suspects in the on-base robbery, who have not been identified publicly, are being held in segregated conditions in the Joint Services Brig on Camp Hansen. Under the U.S.-Japan status of forces agreement, U.S. servicemembers suspected of committing crimes in Japan are detained by the U.S. military prior to indictment unless Japanese police have apprehended them off base.

The two governments have a special agreement that U.S. servicemembers charged with certain “heinous” crimes, such as murder, rape and arson, will be turned over to Japanese authorities prior to indictment.

Last week, Marine officials announced two suspects had been detained but declined to release their names, ranks and service affiliations.

“The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, in close cooperation with Ginowan City Police Department, has worked aggressively to identify perpetrators in the robbery,” said 2nd Lt. Clint Gebke of the Marine Consolidated Public Affairs Office. “Both agencies have worked together, sharing forensic insight and even creating a reenactment of the crime to assist in the investigation.”

The 61-year-old cab driver reported he was robbed at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 7 after being dispatched to barracks Building 217 to pick up a fare. He told police a man walked up to the driver’s door, displayed a knife and demanded the driver exit the cab.

The cabbie said he gave the man a box containing about 5,000 yen ($44) and $5 in U.S. currency. The robber then walked toward the rear of the building.

The cabbie was unharmed, according to the Okinawa Prefectural Police report. The NCIS offered a $2,000 reward in the case but Marine officials said they had no information about whether the reward offer led to the identification of the two suspects.

“For the past three weeks NCIS has interviewed more than 350 people and reviewed hours of videotape,” Gebke said, adding that Okinawa police from Ginowan have been kept abreast of the proceedings.

To aid in their investigation, the Ginowan City Police have full access to the suspects and the investigation documentation compiled by NCIS, Gebke said.

“If the Naha prosecutor’s office chooses to indict the suspects, they will be promptly released by the Marine Corps into Japanese custody,” he said.

A spokesman for Okinawa police in Ginowan said a request to interview the suspects was made Thursday morning.

“They will, of course, be given access to the suspects, as well as all of the investigation documentation compiled by NCIS,” Gebke said Thursday. “The Marine Corps will not tolerate crimes committed by its servicemembers and regrets the anxiety this incident has caused the citizens of Okinawa.”


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