Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is presently serving his prison term at the US Embassy office in Manila after having been convicted of raping a Filipino woman at the former US Naval Base in Subic, Philippines.
Smith is serving a 40-year jail term for the crime of rape. His case became an irritant in the US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippine government and is currently on appeal with the higher appellate court.
Yesterday, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that Smith must serve in Philippine Jail and not on a US government facility inside the US Embassy in Manila. The Inquirer reports: ‘The American Marine convicted of raping a Filipino woman ‘Nicole’ should be detained in a Philippine-run facility, and not at the US Embassy, while he awaits the result of his appeal, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Voting 9-4, with two justices inhibiting, the High Tribunal ruled that the agreements signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney on December 19 and 22, 2006 which allowed the detention of Smith under US military custody at the US Embassy, ‘were not in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)’ which covers procedures for crimes committed by US soldiers in the Philippines.
The sensational rape case happened inside the former US Naval base in Subic Bay in the Philippines last November 2005. The victim, a 22 year old native of Zamboanga City in Southern Philippines was allegedly raped inside a van by Smith and company after they left Neptune Bar, a night club located inside Subic Freeport, with Nicole. The 22-year old Nicole complained that Daniel Smith raped her in the presence of other US servicemen who were cheering him while she was being sexually abused.
Atty. Harry Roque, a professor of law at the University of the Philippines said the Supreme Court had correctly ruled that Smith should be held in a Philippine-run facility while awaiting appeal.
Nicole’s lawyer Evalyn Ursua said that ‘Philippine and American authorities should agree within 24 hours on the facility that should hold the rape convict. She said Smith must be treated like any Filipino convict