A Philippine court Monday convicted a U.S. Marine accused of raping a Filipino woman, ending a yearlong case that tested Philippine-American relations and revived calls for the abrogation of a defense agreement that is seen by many here as too lopsided in favor of Washington.
The court sentenced Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, of St. Louis, to life imprisonment - which, in the Philippines, could mean up to 40 years in prison - for raping a drunken 23-year-old woman in November 2005 inside a former American Naval facility just north of Manila.
Three other Marines - Lance Cpls. Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier - were acquitted. They were accused of egging on Smith during the attack in a van.
The defendants said that what took place was sex between consenting adults.
This is the first time that an American serviceman was convicted of a felony in the Philippines since the American bases here were closed in 1992.
The case became a trial as well of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which sets the parameters on how U.S. military personnel are dealt with if they violate Philippine laws. During the trial, the U.S. Embassy had custody of the Marines, which many considered as proof of the lopsidedness of the agreement.