Pemberton may or may not appear at preliminary probe – US embassy
MANILA, Philippines – Despite a subpoena filed against him, Private 1st Class Joseph Scott Pemberton may decide not to appear before the court on Tuesday, depending on the advise of his lawyer, the United States Embassy in Manila said Sunday.
“Whether the suspect will appear on Tuesday is a decision that he will make in consultation with his Philippine legal counsel, in accordance with Philippine law,” the embassy said in a statement.
Pemberton is facing murder charges for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. Witnesses identified the US Marine as the person who accompanied Laude to a lodge in Olongapo City where the victim was found dead.
The preliminary investigation will start on Tuesday, October 21.
The embassy statement was issued a day after it said that it would make Pemberton “available” for the investigation.
Before this was an assurance by the US that it would “fully cooperate and collaborate with Philippine authorities in all aspects of the case concerning the death of Jennifer Laude.”
It also noted in its statement today, Sunday, that four witnesses had submitted their sworn statements.
“The witnesses will not appear on Tuesday, as they have already met their current legal obligations. In accordance with the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), the witnesses will be made available for the trial,” it added.
Laude’s death highlighted the unresolved discussion on the custody of visiting soldiers accused of violating Philippine laws. Under the VFA, criminal jurisdiction lies with the Philippine government while custody will remain with the US military.