Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Driver in Nicole case off the hook

Subic rape victim, “Nicole,” has decided to lay her hands off Timoteo Soriano, the driver of the van where American serviceman Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith allegedly assaulted her.

In a two-page manifestation, Nicole’s lawyer Evalyn Ursua told the appellate court that her client was no longer interested in seeking the re-instatement of Soriano as co-conspirator because she wanted to focus her attention on Smith, who is now in the custody of the United States embassy in Manila.

Meanwhile, Nicole asked the appelate court to allow her to withdraw the petition she filed, questioning Soriano’s removal from the list of the accused involved in the Subic rape case.

“Petitioner informed her counsel that she is no longer interested in pursuing the criminal case against the private respondent, Timoteo Soriano Jr., and would rather focus on her other cases pending before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court against Daniel Smith,” her motion said.

Ursua said Nicole was exhausted by the trial of the American servicemen accused of gang-raping her and would not want to go through the same ordeal, hence her decision.

“Petitioner would not wish to go through another round of criminal trial against the private respondent after her exhausting experience with the trial against the four US Marines involved in the instant case,” she stressed.

The Filipina victim had asked the CA to reverse the decision of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court dropping Soriano as a co-conspirator in the rape case she filed against him and four US soldiers.

Soriano drove the van while Nicole was being sexually assaulted inside. He earlier said he witnessed the gang rape in the van, and that he drove slowly as Smith raped Nicole and the three other soldiers cheered Smith on. He later recanted his statement, saying he was only forced to sign his first affidavit.

The prosecution tried to bring Soriano to the witness stand but he refused and invoked his right against self-incrimination since he was then facing cases filed by Nicole to reinstate him as an accused in the rape case.

Of the four accused soldiers, only Smith was convicted. The three others—Chad Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood—have since left the Philippines.

Following his sentencing, he was detained at the Makati City Jail on the order of Judge Benjamin Pozon.

Smith stayed in his cell for less than a month. He was taken out during a late-night transfer and brought to the US embassy even while his petition before the Court of Appeals questioning his detention at the city jail was pending.

This prompted Nicole to appeal to the CA to order Smith’s arrest, describing the latter as a fugitive from justice, and to cite for contempt the officials responsible for his transfer.
By Rey E. Requejo - Manila Standard Today

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