Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judge’s inhibition delays court ruling on Subic rape case

The Court of Appeals’ decision on the rape case involving a convicted US Marine was delayed after a justice inhibited himself from the case.

Associate Justice Vicente S. E. Veloso, chairman of the special 16th division, voluntarily inhibited himself from the case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted of raping a local woman inside the Subic Freeport Zone in November 2005.

Court sources, who requested anonymity, Tuesday said Mr. Veloso disclosed that his daughter works in one of the law firms that defended Mr. Smith, who was sentenced up to 40 years in prison by the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Mr. Veloso was replaced by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam. Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon was designated to write the decision on the motion to quash the Makati court’s decision.

Earlier, Associate Justice Celia Librea-Leagogo voluntarily excluded herself from the case because she personally knew one of Mr. Smith’s lawyers. She was replaced by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.

Mr. Smith, Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, Lance Corporals Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood were charged for raping "Nicole."

In December 2006, Makati Judge Benjamin T. Pozon found Mr. Smith guilty of rape and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Messrs. Carpentier, Duplantis, and Silkwood were acquitted and have returned to their mother units.

After serving a few weeks in a Makati prison, Mr. Smith was transferred to the custody of the US embassy in Manila, an act that is being criticized until now by human rights groups.

The case has prompted the US and Philippine governments to review provisions in the Visiting Forces Agreement dealing with the custody of delinquent visiting troops. The agreement provides that the sending country will have custody of its soldier pending a final decision. - Bernard U. Allauigan, GMA NEWS TV Business

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