NAHA, Okinawa — The Fukuoka High Court in Naha reversed a lower court ruling Thursday, handing down harsher sentences to two U.S. Marines sentenced in April for mugging a Japanese man in October 2003.

Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Major, 24, and Cpl. Paul E. Mundell, 22, both assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, each was sentenced to 4½ years in prison for conspiring to assault and rob the 20-year-old Okinawa man, causing bodily harm and stealing a wallet containing a small amount of cash.

Attorneys for both Marines said appeals will be considered.

On April 27, a Naha District Court panel sentenced Mundell to 3½ years in prison for assaulting the man in a Ginowan shopping district, near Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, and stealing 4,000 yen (about $38) from the man’s wallet. Major was given a sentence of two years in prison, suspended for three years, for helping in the assault.

The prosecutor appealed the verdict, objecting to what he called light sentences and Major’s acquittal on the theft charge. He also argued that the crime was premeditated despite the Marines’ state of inebriation.

“There was a clear error in the fact-finding of the lower court,” Masahiko Kubota, chief judge of the appellate court, ruled Thursday.

“This court found that the crime was premeditated,” Kubota said, adding that the three-judge panel believed the motive for the attack was to get money to continue drinking.

According to evidence at the first trial, Mundell, Major and a third Marine, who was not charged, began drinking beer in their barracks on the evening of Oct. 22, 2003, before going to a pool hall outside the base and staying until about 5 a.m.

Major said that when they left the pool hall, they spotted a “brash-looking” Japanese man at a nearby supermarket. Major said he struck the man in the face while Mundell grabbed him from behind. He said he did not realize Mundell had stolen the man’s wallet until later.

But Kubota said that during the assault Major jumped the victim, causing him to fall to the ground, and Major would have had to lift the victim’s body in order for Mundell to rob him.

After the ruling, Mundell, who has been detained at the Naha Detention Center since his indictment in November 2003, returned to the detention center.

Major, who had been free on the former suspended sentence, returned to the air station and had 14 days to appeal the ruling.

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