The US government on Tuesday said it will retain custody of US Marine private first class Joseph Scott Pemberton who was accused in the death of Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October.
A Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City has issued an arrest warrant for Pemberton on Tuesday. The Philippine government formally asked the US government through its embassy in Manila to turn over Pemberton, but its request was denied.
Citing the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and U.S., the American embassy, in a statement, said “the United States has a right to retain custody of a suspect from the commission of the alleged offense until the completion of all judicial proceedings.”
However, the US assured the Philippine government that it will continue to cooperate with local authorities on the case.
Pemberton, 19, was transferred from the USS Peleliu, where he was detained for several days, to Camp Aguinaldo, a Philippine military base located in Quezon City, but the custody remained with the U.S. government.
“The United States will continue to work closely with the Philippine government to help ensure justice is served and the rights of all persons are protected. We again express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” the embassy said.
Pemberton, who was among the thousands of visiting American troops who joined in a large-scale exercise in the country, was identified as the primary suspect in Laude’s killing.
Laude was found dead, his head slumped in a toilet bowl, inside a motel in Olongapo City, where he was last seen with Pemberton. PNA