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Marines in custody after assaulting taxi driver

Date Posted: 2008-01-09

Two American Marines took a taxi on a bizarre ride from Chatan Town’s Kitamae Gate to the entertainment area in Yoshiwara, then had the taxi drive farther before stopping and beating the driver at Mihara, Okinawa City.
According to Okinawa City Police, the two Marines, Cpl. Joseph Wayne Riddle, 20, and a 19-year-old private first class whose name was not released because he is a juvenile under Japanese law, are arrested and questioned by the prosecutors on suspicion of robbery and inflicting personal injury.
The taxi driver is hospitalized with head and body injuries suffered in the assault early Monday morning. The driver told police he took the two GI’s to Yoshiwara, then the pair wanted to drive to another area. The taxi spent more than 20 minutes driving up and down streets until arriving in the Misato housing area, where the men told the driver to stop. When he told them the fare was ¥2,780, one asked to see a map. As the driver bent down to get the map, one of the passengers struck him in the head with a bottle.
The driver fled the taxi, and the two Americans, ages 19 and 20, chased him, caught him and beat him repeatedly with a stick. A passing taxi heard the screams, called police and stopped. Okinawa City Police found the two Marines about 700 meters from the assault location, still wearing the same clothes the witness had described them with.
“Yes, we did hit him, and we didn’t pay the taxi fare,” the 19-year-old told police. He partner, however, denied involvement. Police say the 20-year-old said “No, we didn’t do it. That was not us.” Both remain in local police custody as the investigation continues.

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