Philippine appellate court affirms conviction of US Marine
A court in the Philippines has upheld a jail sentence for a US Marine found guilty of killing a trans woman.
During the trial, the court heard that Pemberton and Laude agreed to have sex after meeting in Olongapo's red light district, but that the drunken marine turned violent when he discovered Laude still had male genitals.
He also said the court misinterpreted him when he said he had possibly killed Laude.
He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercises and met Laude and her friends at a bar in Olongapo, a city known for its nightlife outside Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base.
Pemberton was sentenced to six to 12 years of imprisonment after he was found guilty for homicide - not murder.
Laude's death at the time reignited anti-American sentiment in the Philippines and renewed concerns over the extent of an agreement that allows United States military forces to make regular visits to the country.
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The court pointed out that physical evidence also contradicted Pemberton's claim that he had no intention to commit so grave a wrong. In the absence of unlawful aggression, even the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense which Pemberton also invokes can not be appreciated in his favor.
The court raised civil indemnity to P100,000 (P50,000 each) and moral damages to P150,000 (P75,000) citing recent jurisprudence on homicide cases.
The CA, in the decision received on Monday, said Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton's plea to reverse the guilty verdict was junked because his defense lacked merit.
Pemberton, who has been detained at the AFP custodial center at Camp Aguinaldo since December 2015, can appeal the decision before the Supreme Court.
Two lawmakers on Monday welcomed the Court of Appeals decision.
It also affirmed the P155,250 actual damages as Laude's family was able to prove through actual receipts of damages representing autopsy, wake, and burial expenses.
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"Further, it is only apt that all awards for damages shall bear legal interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid", the CA said.
Their lawyer, House deputy minority leader and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said that the affirmation of Pemberton's conviction "is an affirmation of Philippine sovereignty" and thus a "welcome development".
"Consequently, the argument that Pemberton was not under local custody during the trial has no leg to stand on".
Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with this ruling.
"The special treatment accorded to Pemberton since his conviction shows the disparity and injustice that agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement bestows upon the Filipino people", they said.
"Because Pemberton is not yet incarcerated at the National Bilibid Prison".
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Under an agreement signed by the Philippine and USA governments, persons like Pemberton should be detained at a mutually agreed place of detention, in this case Camp Aguinaldo.
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