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An American teenager was being held in a German jail this week on attempted murder charges after allegedly stabbing a cab driver early Sunday.

The 18-year-old, the son of a U.S. civilian and a resident of Weinheim-Luetzelsachen, was returning from an all-nighter at a Ludwigshafen disco when the stabbing occurred, police said.

“It’s a case with big public interest,” said Heidelberg police spokesman Harald Kurzer. “An attack when the sun is shining, in a little German village.”

According to Kurzer, the teen — whose name was not released according to German privacy laws — stabbed the cab driver at about 7:40 a.m. He used a knife with a grip in the middle, Kurzer said, with a blade sticking out each end.

The cab driver got out of the vehicle, Kurzer said, and fought with his assailant. The two struggled in the street for some seven meters (about 23 feet) until a jogger happened by and screamed. At that point, the assailant ran off, Kurzer said. He was apprehended later, identified by papers contained in a bag he left at the scene.

The cab driver survived, but underwent several surgeries to mend his injuries. Kurzer said the driver has still not been able to give police a statement. The suspect has not provided a statement, Kurzer said.

The assault is the second serious crime to involve both a cab driver and American teens in the Heidelberg area in the past three months.

Three other teens have been in jail on robbery charges since May, after they were implicated in robbing and beating a cab driver.

In May, two 18-year-olds and one 17-year-old — all sons of U.S. Army Europe soldiers — were arrested after allegedly beating and robbing a cab driver they’d hired to take them from Heidelberg’s Universityplatz to Plankstadt, near Schwetzigen, Kurzer said.

That incident occurred May 10 at about 10:40 p.m. Kurzer said all three contributed to the robbery, either holding the cab driver, hitting him or taking his money.

The trio were identified May 23, Kurzer said — although he declined to say how — and brought in by police the next day. A local judge confiscated their passports and told them they could await their court dates at home as long as they checked in with police. Usually, such arrangements call for suspects to check in daily, Kurzer said.

“They did not fulfill the order of the judge,” Kurzer said, by failing to report, and so were taken to pretrial confinement.

In Germany, people under 21 who are charged with crimes are dealt with in youth court, Kurzer said, where the maximum sentence for any offense is 10 years.

Kurzer did not know when the Americans would be going to court. Court dates are based on the complexity of the case, he said, as well as judicial schedules.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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