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Okinawa, US embarrassed by Philippines rape incident

Date Posted: 2005-11-11

Charges that six US Marines stationed on Okinawa raped a woman in the Philippines isn’t sitting well with anyone on the island, even as the case becomes confusing.

Six Marines are thought to be involved, and five have been detained in the Philippines after charges were filed by the Olongapo District Prosecutor’s Office. The Marines, assigned with the III Marine Expeditionary Force here in Okinawa, are being held by the U.S. Embassy.

Confusion surfaced this week, though, as a principal witness in the rape case says he was forced to make statements incriminating the GI’s to police. The vehicle driver whose van was allegedly the place where a 22-year-old Filipina was raped and assaulted, has told officials it didn’t happen and that he will withdraw the statement made to police.

A public prosecutor says that will force perjury charges against the driver. Philippine newspapers identify the driver as Timoteo Seriano. Subic Bay police say Seriano’s testimony has been kept under wraps because it offered graphic details of the rape.

The Marines are part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Hansen, and were in the Philippines along with 4,500 others to participate in military exercises. The Marines left the Philippines earlier this month, leaving only the five accused men behind.

Philippine reaction has been mostly negative, and Okinawans have been angry as well. Upon learning the men have not been turned over to Philippine authorities, Suzuyo Takazato of the Socialist Party said “This scandal must never be forgiven. Americans do more violence and it’s becoming excessive.” Citizens on the street are saying Americans have lost credibility with Okinawans.

Five men are in custody of the U.S. Embassy. The identity and whereabouts of the sixth rape perpetrator are unknown. The U.S. Embassy in Manila, for its part, says “We are taking very seriously this matter. We are ready to fully support the Philippine investigation.”

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