MANILA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Just before another joint military exercise between U.S and the Philippines scheduled for next month, the Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) announced on Monday it has rejected a U.S. marine soldier's plea of self-defense and affirmed guilty verdict for his killing a transgender when he took part in a joint military exercise here three years ago.
In a decision dated April 3, the CA Special 16th Division dismissed U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton's plea of self-defense for killing Jeffrey Laude, a Philippine transgender, and upheld a regional ruling that sentenced him to a maximum of 10 years in jail, with 4.58 million pesos (91.3 thousand U.S. dollars) compensation to pay, as several damages combined.
Laude, 26 years old, was found dead, with her head inside a toilet bowl, in a Celzone Lodge room in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014. Local court said that the 20-year-old Pemberton arm-locked and dunked the victim's head in the toilet to her death, when he found she still had male genitals after they agreed to have sex in a bar.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide in December 2015 by the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City. He appealed against the decision a month later, arguing he was just defending his dignity and self-respect after Laude molested him.
The CA said the alleged molestation couldn't be considered as unlawful aggression and there was no physical evidence suggesting Pemberton was hurt by the deceased. "The only reason why he attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less," it added.
Laude's death reignited anti-American sentiment and incurred extensive protests by the Filipinos at that time as rape and other incidents also happened before when U.S. military visited the Philippines. Angry people called for the termination of an agreement signed in 1998 that allowed U.S. military forces to make regular visits to the country.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to scrap all the joints military between U.S. and the Philippines since he took office last June. Last November, the U.S. and Philippine military agreed they only remain the Balikatan military exercise, which the Philippine military said will be conducted in May this year.