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Philippines court convicts US Marine of rape

[JURIST] A Philippines trial court Monday convicted one US Marine and acquitted three other Marines [US embassy press release] on charges of raping a 23-year-old Filipino woman at a Navy base in Manila last year. The verdict is subject to an automatic appeal. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith will serve a 40 year sentence in a Filipino prison and will pay around $2,000 in compensation to the victim. The Marines were charged within the framework of the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) [text], which requires US personnel to "respect the laws of the Republic of the Philippines," and provides the Philippines with "jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines." The US retains the power to enforce the US Military Code as appropriate and to punish all acts that are punishable under US but not Philippine law.

This case was the first tried under the VFA since it was ratified by both countries in 1999. The VFA was motivated in part by the large number of reported rape incidents in the 1980s involving US soldiers stationed in the Philippines, which resulted in zero convictions. Reuters has more.

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