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July 11, 2006 Tuesday

American Marine hit by Filipino woman rape victim in court

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith
 Flash Report by GMA Network

Nicole, a filipino woman, as she walked to the witness stand to testify against an accused U.S. marine of rape attacked the servicemen with her fist in the court today.

The 22 year old woman went toward Lance Corporal Daniel Smith as she headed towards the stand to continue her testimony at the Makati Regional Trial Court in Manila. She hitted them with her fists and handbag.

As Nicole hitted the accused U.S. marine, U.S. embassy and court officials separated them hurriedly. Nicole was then brought by her lawyer, Evalyn Ursua in the bathroom to calm her down.

Smith, 21, of St. Louis, was sitting with fellow defendants Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood and Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis. Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, another defendant, was seated with defense lawyers. The three are charged with cheering on Smith during the assault.

They can be in prison as long as 40 years if guilty.

Ursua, Nicole's lawyer said that the Marines legs were blocking her and she lodt her balance and fell and because of anger, she was able to hit the american marines. The accused was then transferred to another bench in the courtroom. Both sides had been admonished by the judge.

Nicole already testified last Thursday and said that she was drinking and dancing with her sister at a bar when Smith grabbed her wrist to dance. She was then forced out of the bar. Nicole identified Smith as the man who raped her on the van last November 1, 2005.

She said, before breaking down in tears, "The next thing I remember, someone was lying on top of me. Someone was kissing me. ... It was Smith. I tried to push Smith away with my hands but I was unable to stop him because I was very weak and he was heavy. I did not like what he was doing to me, I don't know anymore what happened. But when I recovered my consciousness, I was already on the ground." Witnesses have said they saw the woman dropped, half-naked, from the van onto a sidewalk. When police came, she went back with them to the bar, but couldn't find Smith.

The woman testified, "I wanted to curse him and I wanted to kill him at that time ... because he raped me."

The session adjourned until Tuesday after the woman started crying when asked by her lawyer if she had gone back to her southern hometown of Zamboanga. Nicole said, "No, because I'm ashamed, because in the news they're already judging me, even if it's not true that I'm a bad person.”

"They said I was drinking, and what's wrong with drinking? We went there to enjoy. I did not want this to happen." The Marines have refused to answer the rape charges, encouraging the judge to enter an innocent plea for them. Defense lawyers insist Smith had consensual sex (sex with consent) with the woman.

The Marines had just finished counterterrorism military exercises with Philippine troops before their arrests. The case sparked anti-American protests in the former U.S. colony and is seen as a black mark on exercises credited with helping weaken al-Qaida-linked militants in the country's restive south.

The accused are part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan.