RP, US officials' agreement on Smith custody filed in court
Quezon City (9 December) -- A WRITTEN agreement between officials of the Philippines and the US has been filed by lawyers of a convicted US Marine before a local court, according to a GMA Network "Flash Report."
The report said the agreement, which sought Lance Corporal Daniel Smith's return to the custody of the US Embassy from the city jail where he has been detained since he was found guilty of raping a Filipina last year, was submitted on Friday before the sala of Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati regional trial court (RTC).
It was signed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno, according to the report.
Kenney and Zuno cited the Visiting Forces Agreement as the basis for their request, saying that a provision in the treaty allows the US Embassy to put under its custody any of its personnel who have been convicted of a crime until final judgement has been rendered on his/her case, according to the report.
Kenney had met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo this week and reiterated the position of the US, which had sent a note verbale to the Philippine government demanding that Smith be turned over to the US Embassy as provided in the VFA.
Pozon had said that he intended to hear the arguments of the two parties before ruling on the defense's petition but had not decided on the date.
Smith had been convicted of raping a Filipina at the Subic Bay Freeport on Nov. 1, 2005. He faces a 40-year prison term for his crime and is detained at the Makati City Jail pending the resolution of the appeal, which his lawyers had filed before the courts.
Smith's fellow Marines -- Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis; and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier -- who were charged as accessories to the crime were acquitted for lack of evidence.
They have since been shipped back to a US base in Okinawa, Japan.
All four were part of a contingent of US troops that took part last year in military exercises with their Filipino counterparts as part of the VFA.
Smith's trial had fanned anti-US sentiments in the Philippines, once a US colony.
It also led to calls for a renegotiation of the VFA, which Kenney had said would depend on the resolution of the problem of Smith's custody. (PIA) [top]