A judge in the Philippines has withdrawn arrest warrants for four U.S. Marines accused of rape.
Judge Renato Dilag of the Olongapo city regional court says he had to scrap the warrants he earlier issued because the four are protected under a bilateral treaty.
The Marines are charged with raping a local woman in November while on leave after taking part in joint exercises at the former U.S. naval base of Subic Bay north of Manila.
Last week, the U.S. Embassy rejected Manila's request to take custody of the Marines, invoking a provision of the Visiting Forces Agreement giving the embassy the right to hold any American military personnel facing charges.
The embassy has pledged to present the four to the court when hearings begin.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.