dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Manila – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday pardoned a US marine jailed for killing a Filipino transgender woman in 2014, the foreign minister said.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr announced Duterte’s decision to grant absolute pardon to Joseph Scott Pemberton in a tweet.
Pemberton was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015 for the homicide of Jennifer Laude, who was found strangled in a motel bathroom in Olongapo City, 90 kilometres north of Manila, in October 2014.
On September 1, Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde ordered Pemberton’s early release on good behaviour, despite having served only five years of his prison term in a special detention cell at the Philippine military headquarters.
At that time, Duterte spokesman Harry Roque criticized the judge’s leniency in the case and said the Department of Justice was expected to appeal the order.
The presidential U-turn – from taking a tough line on Pemberton to granting him a pardon – was left unexplained on Monday.
Pemberton had been among thousands of US forces taking part in regular military training exercises with Filipino soldiers.
Pemberton was covered by a visiting forces agreement between the Philippines and the United States, which allowed him to be held in a special cell at the Philippine military’s headquarters in Manila rather than a state penitentiary.
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