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PI to ask Washington to hand over four GI’s

Date Posted: 2006-01-12

The Foreign Secretary of the Philippines is going to appeal to Washington, asking the US government to surrender four US Marines.

Alberto Romulo wants the four GI’s charged with raping a Filipina woman handed over the his government before trial. The Okinawa-based Marines were indicted December 27th, but remain in custody of the American Embassy in Manila. The U.S. is using the visiting forces agreement between the American and Philippine governments as grounds for maintaining custody. The agreement says the U.S. can keep the men, unless the crime is considered to be ‘extraordinary’.
The 22-year-old woman was allegedly raped last November near Subic Bay. Six Marines were initially accused, but charges were subsequently dropped against two because of a lack of evidence. Officials say the Americans claim the sex was consensual.

Some observers are cautioning the case may become a test of relations between the two governments. The senior Olongapo trial court judge, Renato Dilag, has declared he will “invoke our sovereignty and take custody within the Philippines court system.” The U.S. government has refused, leading Romulo to put the question on the table when he meets next week with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

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