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Philippine protest turns violent

Published January 18, 2007


MANILA, Philippines - Police with truncheons beat left-wing activists Wednesday as they protested the transfer of a U.S. Marine who was convicted of raping a Filipino woman from a local jail to the U.S. Embassy.

About 100 members of two organizations, the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan (Youth of the Nation), tried to march to the embassy, but riot police stopped them several blocks away, beating them with truncheons and shields.

At least two protesters were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.

The activists were denouncing the transfer last month of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, of St. Louis to the U.S. Embassy.

A local court on Dec. 4 sentenced Smith to 40 years' imprisonment and ordered him detained in a Manila jail. Later that month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney agreed to move Smith to the U.S. Embassy while his appeal to be moved to U.S. custody was pending.

The activists called for an end to joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises and the scrapping of the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement, a bilateral pact that governs the conduct of U.S. troops in the Philippines.

"We are condemning our government led by (President) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who permitted this illegal transfer," said Eleanor de Guzman, chairwoman of Anakbayan. She said the move was "a mockery of democracy and national sovereignty."




[Last modified January 18, 2007, 00:59:17]

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