US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, primary suspect in the murder of 26-year-old Philippine transgender Jennifer Laude has been transferred to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Wednesday, separate radio reports said.
Philippine and US military officials agreed on the transfer, which is expected to ease a continuing debate on the custody of Pemberton.
In a news conference Wednesday, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang said Pemberton will be detained at the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board Facility while preliminary investigation is being conducted. He will be incarcerated in a 20-foot container van that will be installed with iron bars, guarded by US Marines as Philippine military guards will be positioned outside the premises.
Accompanied by US and Philippine officials, Pemberton was airlifted by an aircraft from his temporary detention facility on board USS Peleliu which is presently docked in Subic Bay, Zambales.
He has a military type cot-bed and an air-conditioning system.
“We could not take his photos as this will violate his rights,” Catapang said.
He added that the personnel of the US Marine Custodial Unit will post guards inside his detention cell; while the Military Police personnel of General Headquarters Support Command will secure the outside perimeters of the facility.
“The decision to detain Pfc. Pemberton in this facility was mutually agreed by both governments of the US and the Philippines through its embassies,” Catapang stressed.
The court will decide on the appropriate detention facility once a case has been filed against the accused, he pointed out.
Pemberton did not appear before the Olongapo City prosecutor Tuesday for the preliminary investigation on the death of Laude, whose body was discovered in the toilet of a local motel last October 11. Pemberton was the last individual seen with Laude entering the motel.
Laude’s death had triggered renewed debate on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), focusing on the matter of custody of US servicemen linked to local crimes.
The VFA, which was borne out of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, was signed in 1999 allowing joint military exercises between Philippine and US troops in the country.
ManilaTimes.net with PNA