Updated: September 13, 2020 2:50:57 pm
A US Marine Corps officer convicted of killing a Filipino transgender woman in 2014 was released and deported on Sunday after he was granted an absolute pardon by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
The marine, named Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, served a little over half of a 10-year sentence. He left Manila aboard an American military aircraft early in the morning, the Washington Post reported.
PH Immigration bureau: Pemberton has successfully been deported, military plane left at exactly 9:14 this morning.
— Mike Navallo (@mikenavallo) September 13, 2020
Pemberton was brought to Manila airport from his cell in the main military camp, accompanied by an entourage of Philippine immigration officers and representatives of the US Embassy. Before boarding the plane, he was made to undergo a coronavirus test — the results of which were negative, immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval told The Associated Press.
In a statement issued before he left the country, Pemberton said that he was “extremely grateful” to the president for pardoning him and expressed his “most sincere sympathy” to the family of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, who he was convicted of killing in 2014.
In 2015, a court found Pemberton guilty of murdering Laude in a hotel in Olongapo City, located near a former US Navy base, where he was stationed at the time.
The then 19-year-old Pemberton admitted to have choked Laude after discovering that she was transgender. He claimed that he had acted in self-defence.
The president’s decision to pardon Pemberton sparked widespread outrage amongst left-wing groups, LGBTQ activists, and Laude’s family members. The victims’ mother, Julita Laude, said that she felt betrayed as the President had previously promised her family that Pemberton would not walk free until he completed his decade-long prison sentence.
“Ten years in prison is all we are asking…Ten years!” the Washington Post quoted her as saying. “It’s a short time to pay in jail for the life of my daughter.”
The US Embassy has insisted that Pemberton’s release was in accordance with “Philippine jurisdiction and law” and that “Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts”, news agency AP reported.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd