MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine justice secretary on Wednesday ruled out an out-of-court settlement in a rape case involving four U.S. Marines as squabbles between the accuser and prosecutors broke out at the emotional trial.

The 22-year-old Filipino woman has testified that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith of St. Louis raped her in a van on Nov. 1 at the Subic Bay freeport, a former U.S. Naval base, while three other Marines cheered him on.

If convicted, all four face a maximum of 40 years behind bars.

Last week, Smith described in detail that the sex was consensual, while the woman has said she was too drunk to resist.

The woman’s mother then accused prosecutors of incompetence and alleged the lead prosecutor had tried to talk her into pressing her daughter to agree a deal with U.S. authorities.

The prosecutor, Emilie de los Santos, denied the accusation, and called the woman and her mother “liars” and “ingrates” at a news conference, while the woman called for their replacement.

Her private lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, also part of the prosecution panel, expressed outrage at her colleagues, accusing them of destroying their client’s credibility.

“We are being distracted from the case, instead of working to prosecute the case,” she said.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales ruled out an out-of-court settlement.

“We’re already so far into the trial stage,” he said. “That should quash any hopes of a compromise.”

Gonzales on Monday rejected the woman’s petition to change the prosecutors. But on Tuesday, he said that considering the public uproar, he would watch the trial closely and may still decide if there is a need to replace them.

The case has stirred emotions in the former American colony and, according to some, has tainted the U.S. counterterrorism training, which has been credited with helping Filipino troops crush Muslim militants in the country’s restive south.

The Marines had just taken part in a counterterrorism exercise in the northern Philippines and were on leave at the time of the alleged incident.


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