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Laude case: Pemberton files appeal to reverse conviction

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The lawyer representing a US Marine found guilty of killing a transgender Filipina filed an appeal on Wednesday, January 6, seeking to reverse his conviction.

On Thursday, Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde of Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in Olongapo City ordered the prosecution to submit its comment on the appeal within 10 days, and then for Pemberton’s lawyers to submit a reply to the comment within 10 days after receiving a copy of the comment.

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was convicted of homicide in December, in a case that reignited long-simmering anti-American sentiment in the former US colony. 

The American's lawyer Rowena Garcia Flores also filed a separate motion seeking a reduced sentence for the marine in the event that the acquittal is not granted.

"Of course, we want an acquittal but what is the likelihood the court will grant that?" she told Agence France-Presse.

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

During the trial, the court heard that Pemberton and Laude agreed to have sex after meeting in Olongapo's red light district, but that the drunken marine turned violent when he discovered Laude still had male genitals.

He acted out of "passion and obfuscation," the court said, adding that "in the heat of passion, he arm-locked the deceased, and dunked his (her) head in the toilet".

Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in jail and is being held in a cell in the country's military headquarters in Manila.

If Pemberton's conviction is upheld, his attorney said the case could be raised to a higher court.

Pemberton's homicide conviction is the first under a visiting forces agreement between the two countries signed in 1998, covering the legal liability of US troops taking part in military operations in the Philippines. – with a report from Randy Datu/Rappler.com