Wednesday, June 07, 2006

US Embassy Prevents Witness From Testifying

A US investigator failed to appear in the resumption of the trial of the rape charge filed by a 22-year old Filipina against four US servicemen at the Makati Regional Trial Court causing the prosecution panel to suspect that the American government was “delaying” the trial.

The defense panel was supposed to cross examine Naval Criminal Investigation Service Special Agent Ronald Beltz but he was a no-show. Prosecution laywer Emily de los Santos said he was not given a clearance from Washington. A second investigator was supposed to take the witness stand but was also prevented from testifying.

“They are ready anytime except that Washington has not cleared them,” de los Santos told the court.

De los Santos added that it was only Beltz who was covered by diplomatic immunity and not the second investigator.

Prosecution lawyer Evalyn Ursua did not take the non-appearance lightly. She asked the court to deduct a day from the one-year prescription period stipulated in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The VFA states that the American government will not have any more obligation to make available the accused Marines if the trial goes beyond a year.

“It’s a slap on our faces. What this shows us is that the American government is more powerful than our government. We can continue with the process but they can do whatever they please,” Ursua said.

The 22-year old victim, “Nicole” not her real name, was present at the trial and so were the accused.

“Nicole” wore a khaki jacket over a black shirt, khaki pants and sandals. She also wore sunglasses and khaki hat.

On her way out of the courtroom, she was surrounded by supporters some of whom acted as decoy to evade photographers and television cameras.

The four suspects, meanwhile, brisk-walked to a waiting van.

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