Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Justice secretary downgrades charges v. 3 US Marines in rape case

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales on Tuesday reduced charges against three of four US Marines in the alleged rape of a Filipino woman, allowing them to avoid a possible death penalty if convicted.

Gonzales said he saw no proof supporting a conspiracy indictment in which "the act of one is the act of all."

He said he expected his decision to spark controversy in this former American colony where any US military presence is a sensitive issue.

"I decide the case based on its evidence. I do not decide on the basis of the emotions or the cry of the mob," he said. (AP)