Tug of War Over Smith Over

On March 2, 2009, I posted an article entitled “Tug of War Over Smith Continues” (click here).  The tug of war is now over.

On April 23, 2009, the Court of Appeals (CA) overturned Lance Corporal Daniel Smith’s conviction for rape by the regional trial court of Makati, which previously sentenced the US marine to 40 years in prison in December 2006. According to the CA, no evidence was introduced to show that Smith employed force, threat and intimidation.  This finding supports Smith’s claim that the sex was consensual.

The CA decision, which was promulgated by a division composed of three lady justices, puts an end to a saga that began in 2005, when Suzette Nicolas (more popularly known as “Nicole”) charged Smith with rape.  The Associated Press lists the key events that culminated in the promulgation of the CA decision:

_ Nov. 1, 2005: A 22-year-old Filipino woman files complaint alleging she was raped by a U.S. Marine after a night of drinking at Subic Bay, a former U.S. Naval base.

_ Jan. 12, 2006: A Philippine judge issues arrest warrant for Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith and three other Marines.

_ Jan. 17, 2006: The U.S. rejects a Philippine request to hand over the Marines.

_ April 28, 2006: The Marines refuse to answer rape charges against them, judge enters a not guilty plea.

_ July 6, 2006: The accuser breaks down on the stand as she identifies Smith as her rapist. She says she was too drunk to stop the assault.

_ July 17, 2006: Smith testifies he had consensual sex.

_ Dec. 4, 2006: Smith is convicted of rape, sentenced to 40 years. The three other Marines are acquitted.

_ Dec. 29, 2006: Philippine officials allow Smith to be whisked from a local jail to the U.S. Embassy.

_ Feb. 11, 2009: The Supreme Court orders Smith to be moved from the U.S. Embassy to Philippine custody while case on appeal.

_ March 17, 2009: The accuser alters her testimony and emigrates to the U.S., saying she was no longer certain that a crime took place.

_ April 23, 2009: A Philippine appeals court overturns Smith’s conviction and orders his immediate release.

GMAnews.tv reports that Smith left the Philippines on April 24 . (click here)

In Nicolas vs. Romulo, G.R. No. 175888/G.R. No. 176051/G.R. No. 176222, February 11, 2009, the Supreme Court ordered the Philippine government to negotiate with representatives of the United States towards an agreement for the detention of Smith by Philippine authorities.  With the acquittal of Smith and his departure from the country, the matter has now become moot.