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SEOUL — South Korean police said they are recommending a U.S. military policeman be charged with assault and robbery after he admitted to beating a taxi driver and stealing his vehicle on March 26.

A Uijeongbu police official said Monday that the case was to be forwarded to city prosecutors on Tuesday. Prosecutors will review the case and make the final determination on whether to charge the 22-year-old private first class.

U.S. and South Korean officials told Stars and Stripes that the soldier turned himself in to U.S. Forces Korea a day after the incident.

An 8th Army spokesman told Stars and Stripes in late March that the soldier was in the custody of his unit and officials there were preparing paperwork to place him in pre-trial confinement. The U.S. military will not name personnel being investigated for alleged crimes unless charges have been filed.

Police said the soldier hailed a luxury taxi in downtown Seoul around 10 p.m. on March 26, ran up about a $50 fare traveling the 18 miles to Uijeongbu and then attacked the driver when they arrived in the city, forcing him from the taxi and leaving in the vehicle.

Police discovered the taxi parked at an apartment complex near the U.S. Army’s Camp Red Cloud about an hour later. Security camera video footage — aired on South Korean news channels and Web sites — showed a white male running in and out of one of the apartments and police discovered what they claimed was the soldier’s cell phone in the taxi.

The soldier’s battalion commander, command sergeant major and chaplain visited the injured taxi driver to offer a “reconciliation (retribution) payment” on behalf of the soldier, according to the 8th Army spokesman.

Other taxi incidents

Alleged stabbing

South Korean prosecutors in Daegu said Monday that a high caseload means it could take as long as a month to decide whether to prosecute two teens — the sons of U.S. military servicemembers — who are accused of stabbing a South Korean taxi driver on March 20. When the boys bailed out of the taxi without paying a $2.50 fare around 2 a.m., the driver gave chase and nabbed them with the help of a bystander. The driver says one of the boys stabbed him during an ensuing scuffle.

Court case begins

Two U.S. soldiers were to appear in Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday to face charges that they beat a taxi driver in a public restroom in Itaewon on Nov. 17. Police said Anthony Justin Faulkner, 18, and Justin Ronald Brown, 20, — both of the 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) — beat the 51-year-old driver, who suffered a ruptured eyeball, broken nose and broken cheekbone in the attack.

— Stars and Stripes

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