Two U.S. Marines back in Okinawa after being cleared in Philippine rape case

Two U.S. Marines, cleared in a case that has led to rape charges against four colleagues, have been released from U.S. Embassy custody and have returned to their home unit in Okinawa, an embassy official said Thursday. "Yes, they have been released," said a U.S. Embassy official who declined to be identified as she was not authorized to discuss the issue. "Since all complaints against them have been dismissed by the (Olongapo) city prosecutor's office ... they have returned to their unit in Okinawa."

Prosecutors on Tuesday filed rape charges against four other Marines and the Filipino driver of their rented van before a regional trial court in Olongapo, near the site of the alleged Nov. 1 rape. The complaint against the two others, Lance Cpl. Corey Burris and Lance Cpl. Albert Lara, was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Lawyers for the alleged victim said Wednesday they might file a motion for reconsideration to have Burris and Lara included among the accused.

In documents submitted to the court, Olongapo City Prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni alleged that Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith raped a 22-year-old woman inside a van at Subic Bay free port, a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila, while his fellow Marines cheered him on to the beat of loud music.

Also charged were Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier.

Smith's lawyer, Benjamin Formoso, said Thursday his client was not worried about the charge, saying Smith maintains he only had "consensual sex."

"There was no force, no violence, no drugs whatsoever administered on her," Formoso said in a telephone interview. "There was no rape." Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said Wednesday that a possible battle looms over custody of the four accused U.S. Marines, with Manila and Washington both insisting on custody, reports the AP. I.L.

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