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Court affirms homicide conviction of U.S. soldier

Court affirms homicide conviction of U.S. soldier”

The Philippine Court of Appeals has upheld a guilty verdict on a US Marine for killing a transgender woman almost three years ago, a case that stirred debate over the US military presence in its former colony.

Pemberton met transgender Filipina Laude in October 2014 in a bar in the city of Olongapo, northwest of capital Manila, after the marine took part in a joint US-Philippine military exercise.

On Pemberton's claim of a third person's involvement in the crime, the CA said it is "mighty implausible", adding, "There is no rhyme or reason why anyone would kill [Mr.] Laude in his supposed unconscious state, if the version of Pemberton is to be believed".

The appeals court explained, the alleged molestation done to Pemberton can not be considered as unlawful aggression.

The CA pointed out that "Pemberton did not suffer any injury when he allowed Laude to perform oral sex on him".

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The appellate court also upheld the award of P4.32 million to the heirs of Laude for loss of earning capacity; P30,000 in exemplary damage; and, P155,250 in actual damages, representing autopsy, wake, and burial expenses.

Brosas also denounced what she called a "special treatment" to Pemberton, an American serviceman who is now detained in a restricted facility at the Armed Forces headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The case had struck a nerve in the Philippines, as questions over custody of U.S. servicemen accused of crimes had turned into jurisdictional disputes that sparked heated debates on sovereignty.

It affirmed the lower court's sentence on Pemberton of six to 12 years imprisonment.

The CA noted there was no physical evidence that would suggest that Pemberton was first slapped by Laude, or that he was in grave danger, which prompted him to defend himself.

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Pemberton's camp also argued that the Olongapo court brushed aside evidence establishing the possibility that Laude was killed by another person.

Pemberton's motion for reconsideration has been junked by the lower court, prompting him to raise his case before the CA.

Pemberton, who has been detained at the AFP custodial center at Camp Aguinaldo since December 2015, can appeal the decision before the Supreme Court.

Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred with this ruling.

Following the CA's affirmation of the verdict against Pemberton, some party-list lawmakers on Monday called for his immediate transfer to the national penitentiary.

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"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.



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