Filipino protesters storm US Embassy over a rape case

About two dozen protesters angry over a rape case involving a Marine stormed the American Embassy on Sunday.

Filipino protesters storm US Embassy over a rape case
About two dozen protesters angry over a rape case involving a Marine stormed the American Embassy on Sunday, hitting a U.S. government seal on the gate with fists and a brick before surprised policemen pushed them away, police and witnesses said.

The protesters demanded the transfer to a Philippine jail of Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was convicted a year ago of raping a Filipino woman but has remained under U.S. government custody and detained at the heavily fortified embassy.

Taking advantage of the absence of policemen, who usually stand guard outside the embassy, the protesters ran toward the gates and used their fists and a red brick to pound the bronze seal.

It was unclear why policemen were not posted outside the embassy at the time. Officers later arrived and pushed the protestors away, but did not make any arrests.

"It has been one year, and he is still being protected by the United States government," said protest leader Vencer Crisostomo, adding that Washington should face the consequences of crimes committed overseas by its troops.

The protesters demanded the repeal of the bilateral Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows large numbers of American troops to join war exercises in the Philippines. The agreement spells out terms of how to deal with troops accused of crimes.

Smith was convicted by a suburban Manila court last year of raping a Filipino woman in a van as fellow Marines cheered him on. The court sentenced him to 40 years in prison for the crime, alleged to have been committed while he was on a break after joining military exercises north of Manila.

Smith, from St. Louis appealed the court ruling.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government agreed to allow Smith to be detained at the U.S. Embassy while appealing his conviction, angering women's groups and left-wing activists.

Smith's conviction has been hailed as a victory for women's rights and Philippine independence from its former colonizer.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Aralık 2007, 12:56
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