SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea decided Wednesday to retain jurisdiction over a U.S. soldier accused of stabbing a South Korean man in a drunken brawl last month, the Justice Ministry said.
The decision clears the way for South Korean prosecutors to indict Pfc. John C. Humphrey (search) on charges of attempted murder, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
Humphrey, who belongs to the 17th Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Eighth Army (search), allegedly stabbed a 27-year-old South Korean on May 15.
A Justice Ministry official confirmed that South Korea will retain jurisdiction, but provided no further details.
The U.S. military has been notified of South Korea's decision, said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for the U.S. Eighth Army.
"We will continue to cooperate with the South Korean authorities over this issue," Boylan said.
Under the Status of Forces Agreement (search) that governs American troops stationed in South Korea, the host nation has primary jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers accused of committing serious crimes while off duty.
The South Korean was allegedly stabbed while trying to stop the drunken soldier from stomping on a taxi, according to local news reports. Local police detained the soldier and later handed him over to U.S. military authorities.
The soldier is currently not in custody, but is under 24-hour supervision by his unit, Boylan said.
The victim was reportedly in a stable condition.
Accidents and crimes involving U.S. soldiers have provoked demonstrations against their presence.
The United States stations 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea in a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, but wants to withdraw one-third of those troops by the end of next year as part of a global realignment of forces.