updated 4/24/2008 7:45:18 AM ET 2008-04-24T11:45:18

Prosecutors charged a U.S. sailor Thursday in the stabbing death of a taxi driver, one of a series of alleged crimes against American service members that has stirred anger in Japan.

Olatunbosun Ugbogu, a Nigerian citizen serving in the U.S. Navy, was charged with stabbing to death Masaaki Takahashi, 61, near a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, on March 19, Yokohama District Court officials said in a statement.

The sailor, who served on the USS Cowpens, faces charges of robbery, murder and illegal possession of a weapon. Japanese police have said that he confessed to the crime.

Court officials said the sailor faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

Ugbogu, 22, was taken into U.S. custody after Navy authorities apprehended him in Tokyo March 22 on an earlier desertion charge. Navy and Japanese authorities first questioned him about the killing after a credit card in his name was allegedly found in the victim’s car.

Ugbogu was handed over to Japanese authorities earlier this month under a bilateral security pact.

Public anger over the American military presence in Japan has mounted after a series of allegations against U.S. servicemen. In another case, a Marine was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in February on the southern island of Okinawa.

Japanese prosecutors dropped charges against the Marine and released him after the girl withdrew her complaint, but the U.S. military is continuing its own investigation.

In Yokosuka, a Japanese court convicted a U.S. sailor of robbing and fatally beating a 56-year-old Japanese woman in 2006 and sentenced him to life in prison.

Some 50,000 American troops are based in Japan.

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