Monday, December 4, 2006

Philippines: US Marine Sentenced To 40 Years For Rape

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith has been sentenced in a Manila courtroom to 40 years in prison for the rape of a local woman at a former US navy base in the Philippines.

The BBC reports:
The attack took place at the former US naval base of Subic Bay, west of Manila, in November last year.

Smith, 21, from St Louis, Missouri, had said the sex was consensual.

But Judge Benjamin Pozon said the woman was so drunk she could not have consented to sex.

He said the length of the sentence was aimed at "protecting women against the unbridled bestiality of persons who cannot control their libidinous proclivity".
It's too bad he couldn't have written it in terms the young man would understand. Oh well. He's got 40 years to think about it.
Smith was also ordered to pay the defendant 100,000 pesos ($2,000) in damages.
An interesting take on the relationship of time to money ... or punishment to restitution!

More details:
Three other defendants, Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, were all cleared of rape.
The marines had been held in custody at the US embassy, after the US refused to hand them over until the end of the trial.

The defendants were stationed in Okinawa, Japan, but had just finished manoeuvres in the Philippines when the attack occurred.
Attack. Good word. No modifier, no quotes around it, nothing. Congratulations to the BBC.
The case created strong emotions in the Philippines, with protesters often appearing at the courtroom.
About 100 protesters were outside the courthouse for the verdict.

They sang the nationalist song My Country and called for the end of the Visiting Forces Agreement that covers the use of overseas troops in training exercises.
About the Visiting Forces Agreement, Wikipedia says:
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the United States [...] became effective on May 27, 1999 [...]
The primary effect of the Agreement is that it allows the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, unless the crimes are of "particular" importance to the Philippines. This means that for crimes without this significance, the U.S. can refuse to detain or arrest accused personnel, or may instead prosecute them under U.S. jurisdiction. The Agreement also exempts U.S. military personnel from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines.
The U.S. has at least twice used the Agreement to keep accused military personnel under U.S. jurisdiction. This most recently occurred on January 18, 2006, when the U.S. refused to hand over custody four soldiers accused of rape during the period of their trial in Filipino courts. This has led to unrest amongst many in the Philippines, who believe that the Agreement is one-sided, prejudicial to Filipinos, and a fetter on the sovereignty of the Philippines. To the extent that the Agreement in is seen by some Filipinos as granting immunity from prosecution to U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against Filipinos, the Agreement is also seen by some as treating Filipinos as second class citizens in their own country.

As a result of these issues, the Philippine government has considered terminating the VFA.
It will be interesting to see whether any of this pops up in the American media; I'm starting to see signs that it will.

In France, the International Herald Tribune has a timeline of the case:
Nov. 1, 2005: A 22-year-old Filipino woman files complaint alleging she was raped by a U.S. Marine at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base, while three other Marines allegedly cheered him on.

Nov. 3: Philippine authorities delay departure of USS Essex while searching for the men. The ship leaves without the Marines, who are placed in U.S. Embassy custody.

Nov. 4: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo instructs officials "to ensure that justice is done."

Dec. 27: Prosecutors charge the Marines with rape.

Jan. 12, 2006: A Philippine judge issues arrest warrant for the Marines.

Jan. 17: The U.S. formally rejects a Philippine request to hand over the Marines, citing provisions of a military pact.

Jan. 19: A Philippine congressional committee approves a nonbinding resolution urging the government to abrogate the pact.

April 28: The Marines refuse to answer rape charges against them, judge enters a not guilty plea.

June 2: A security guard at the Neptune bar testifies he saw Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith carry a drunk woman on his back to a van.

June 7: Prosecutors accuse the U.S. Embassy of delaying the proceedings by refusing to allow U.S. Navy investigators to testify. The embassy relents and allows investigators to appear.

June 29: A Filipino doctor tells court the accuser suffered injuries consistent with sexual assault.

July 6: "Nicole" breaks down on the stand as she identifies Smith as her rapist. She says she was too drunk to stop the assault.

July 10: "Nicole" attacks Smith with fists in court while walking to the stand.

July 17: Smith testifies he had consensual sex, says: "I think it's horrible what I've been accused of. This place has taken a year off of my life that I can never get back."

Sept. 20: Justice secretary rules out an out-of-court settlement as squabbles break out between "Nicole" and prosecutors, one of whom calls the accuser and her mother "liars" and "ingrates" at a news conference.

Dec. 4: Smith is convicted of rape, sentenced to 40 years. The three other Marines are acquitted.
Thanks to the AP for this summary as published by IHT.

I have three questions:

1) Do you think the three who "allegedly cheered him on" should go to prison if they in fact did "cheer him on" (and I don't know if they did or not, so this will have to be purely hypothetical)?

2) Do you think this story will get more play in the American media than it would have if the war in Iraq were going "well" (whatever that means) (so this will have to be hypothetical, too)?

3) Do you think I ask too many questions?