US marine admits to choking transgender Filipino
(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly)
A U.S. marine has admitted in court to choking in self-defense a transgender Filipino found dead in a hotel last year.
Lawyer Harry Roque, one of the private prosecutors, told a press briefing that Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton made the admission during his testimony Monday at a court in northern Olongapo City, which formerly hosted a U.S. military base.
Pemberton, 20, is suspected of killing Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude Laude, 26, in a motel where an employee discovered the body in a bathroom near midnight Oct. 11. He is charged with murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The Rappler news website reported Roque as saying that Pemberton told the court he had been surprised upon discovering that Laude was not a biological woman and pushed the victim from the bed at the hotel room.
Laude allegedly slapped Pemberton, who then choked the victim before stopping when he thought Laude had lost consciousness. He said he had then dragged Laude to the bathroom in hopes of reviving the victim with water, only to discover there was none running.
A murder complaint was filed last December against Pemberton, who is currently detained at a U.S. facility inside a Philippine military camp in Quezon City.
Reporters are prohibited from entering the courtroom where the trial is held.
The case of Laude's killing has heightened tension between the Philippines and the U.S., with Pemberton's incarceration at the U.S.-run facility raising complaints that the U.S. is scorning Philippine sovereignty under the Visiting Forces Agreement. The deal allows the U.S. to retain custody of accused personnel during judicial proceedings.
The U.S. has maintained a heavy military presence in the Philippines since its former colony gained independence in 1946. The number of troops is expected to increase as U.S. President Barack Obama attempts to counter China's influence in the region.
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