Philippines: The United States has acquiesced to the Philippine authorities’ demand that a US marine wanted for the murder of a Filipino transgender woman be handed over to them to be tried for the alleged crime.
The Philippines had been seeking the custody of a marine held on a US war ship after the body of Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer, was found by hotel staff in the northern port city of Olongapo, less than an hour after the victim checked into a room with Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton who is part of the 3,500-member US contingent in the Philippines conducting a joint military exercise.
Pemberton was transferred by helicopter to military headquarters in Manila where he is incarcerated in an air-conditioned van guarded by US marines with Philippine military guards posted outside the compound.
Foreign Department spokesman Charles Jose had told AFP last week that the Philippines would seek custody of the US serviceman and now international media is reporting that that request has been met after police issued a statement the US serviceman had been identified by a witness and that a murder charge was being prepared against him.
This was being done in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement signed by the two allies in 1998 that covers legal liability of US forces in the Philippines. The agreement gives the Philippines jurisdiction over US troops who commit crimes not linked to their official duties but whose custody will remain with the US government.
Police say Laude, who checked in with a “foreign man,” was found lifeless Oct 11 at the bathroom floor with marks on the neck police. Initial investigations suggested the victim had been strangled and drowned in the toilet bowl.
If tried and convicted, Pemberton could face life in jail.“I think we have sufficient evidence to sustain the charge of murder,” Harry Roque the lawyer pursuing the case on behalf of the victim’s family said in an interview on television.
Source: inquirer.net; gaystarnews.com