‘Jennifer’ Laude to be cremated on Oct. 24
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – The remains of murdered transgender woman, Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, will be cremated on Friday (Oct. 24) to grant her German boyfriend more time to grieve at her wake.
Marc Sueselbeck, who had been in a long distance relationship with Laude for the last two years, arrived in the country on Sunday noon and was expected to reach this city at 5 p.m., Laude’s sister, Marilou, said.
Laude was found dead inside a motel bathroom here on the night of Oct. 11 a few minutes after her companion, whom witnesses identified as an American soldier, left their room.
Marilou filed on Oct. 15 a complaint for murder against Private 1st Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the American Marine who witnesses said was the last person seen with Laude in the motel.
The United States Embassy in Manila on Sunday clarified that Pemberton and his lawyer would decide if they would show up during the preliminary hearing on Tuesday, to which the Marine was summoned by the Olongapo City prosecutor.
Marilou said Laude’s cremation was originally scheduled for Tuesday (Oct. 21), but the family moved it to Friday to allow Sueselbeck, who arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday noon, to spend a few more days with her.
“When she was alive, [Laude] used to joke that she preferred to be beautiful when she dies, and she informed us she wished to be cremated,” Marilou said.
She said Sueselbeck would fly back to Germany on Saturday after the funeral rites.
Sueselbeck and Laude had planned to wed in 2015 in Thailand, Laude’s relatives said.
Sueselbeck talked to the Philippine Daily Inquirer last week by telephone and condemned the brutality suffered by his girlfriend. He said he wanted Laude’s killer to be punished.
On Saturday, the US Embassy announced that it would comply with a Philippine prosecutor’s order to produce Pemberton, including four other soldiers who were regarded as witnesses in the Laude murder investigation.
Olongapo City Prosecutor Emelie Fe de los Santos and Eduardo de Vega of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ legal department handed a copy of the subpoena to US Embassy officials in Manila on Friday.
The subpoena required Pemberton and four other US Marines, who would serve as witnesses, to appear in the Oct. 21 preliminary investigation, said lawyer Virgie Suarez, one of the counsels of the Laude family.
But in a statement released on Sunday, the US Embassy said: “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 also said the American witnesses would not appear in Tuesday’s hearing.
“Last week, city prosecutors met with four witnesses and swore them to their statements, in accordance with Philippine law, satisfying the requirements of the city prosecutor and the ‘make available’ language of the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” the statement said.
The US Embassy said it would continue “to fully cooperate and collaborate with Philippine authorities in all aspects of the case concerning the death of Jennifer Laude.”
Suarez said: “I really don’t care if he (Pemberton) is not present during the preliminary investigation. But once a warrant of arrest is issued, then the government’s capability to take him under Philippine custody will be put to test.”
The family’s lead counsel, Harry Roque, said the uncertainty surrounding Pemberton’s participation in Philippine legal proceedings would justify the abolition of the VFA, which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999.
“US servicemen — even if they commit non-service related offenses — are not under the jurisdiction of the Philippines,” Roque said in a text message.
“Utang na loob pa natin (It is our debt of gratitude) if they choose to participate in local proceedings,” Roque added.
Marilou said she and her sister, Michelle, have decided to attend a Senate inquiry into the murder of their sibling that was called by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday. Santiago chairs the Senate’s committee on foreign relations.
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