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SEOUL — The South Korean Marine Corps has taken custody of a civilian man accused of killing one marine and seriously injuring another in a Dec. 6 attack, Ministry of National Defense officials confirmed Tuesday.

South Korean police turned Cho Yong-guk, 35, over to military custody on Monday, a ministry spokesman said during a phone interview. Cho is accused of striking the marines with his vehicle and stabbing them both in a plot to steal a rifle, a hand grenade and ammunition.

He was nabbed Dec. 12 in Seoul, police officials have said. The police said they discovered the weapons earlier that day after Cho left a letter in Busan, on the southern coast, detailing where he hid them at a highway rest stop.

The South Korean press reported that Cho committed the crime to embarrass a former girlfriend, but the ministry spokesman declined to comment on Cho’s motive because the case is under investigation.

Ministry officials have said Cho will face a military court-martial in accordance with Article 27 of the Korean constitution, which allows civilians to be tried in military court if they are accused of committing certain offenses, including injuring military guards.

The spokesman said that if Cho is charged with killing the guard, he faces the death penalty. Any prison sentence would be served in a civilian jail, the spokesman said.

The last time a South Korean prisoner was executed was in 1997.


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