5 U.S. Marines deny involvement in Philippine rape

5 U.S. Marines deny involvement in Philippine rape

MANILA, Nov. 29 Kyodo

Five U.S. Marines denied involvement in an alleged gang-rape of a Philippine woman, while the sixth Marine refused to answer the complaint, according to statements filed Tuesday before Philippine prosecutors.

The six Okinawa-based servicemen, as well as the 22-year-old woman who claimed she was raped, did not attend the second preliminary hearing set to determine if there is a ”probable cause” to file rape charges against the Americans.

The woman said in her statement she was raped in a van Nov. 1 by one of the Marines as others looked on and cheered while driving through the sprawling Subic port area in a van. Subic is 138 kilometers northwest of Manila.

”There was nothing extraordinary that happened. It was just a normal exchange of one’s feelings and there was nothing about sex or anything,” one of the lawyers for the servicemen said.

The court gave the sixth serviceman and the van driver, who was first considered a key witness but later recanted his statements, a Dec. 9 deadline to give their version of the story.

”There’s nothing to answer yet. The complaint leveled against our client cannot be ascertained,” lawyer Benjamin Formoso said, adding that the woman’s side has been submitting ”piecemeal” statements and evidence.

The U.S. Embassy has retained custody of the suspects amid calls from some lawmakers that custody be transferred to the Philippines.

The accused are among 4,000 U.S. troops who took part in two weeks of military drills with Philippine troops last month.

The Philippine government terminated a basing agreement with the United States in 1992, and U.S. forces abandoned Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base in Angeles City in Pampanga Province, ending 94 years of U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

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