DFA confirms four US Marine witnesses in transgender slay have left PH
MANILA, Philippines–The four US Marine witnesses to the murder case of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude have left the country without informing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“The DFA was not informed by the United States (US) side that the four witnesses were leaving the country,” DFA spokesman assistant secretary Charles Jose said in a text message to reporters Monday.
“They are not required to do so. According to prosecutor, they have already satisfied the legal requirements. Moreover, the US has given assurance that they will make available the witnesses at the trial,” Jose said.
The four US Marines witnesses are in the same unit as private first class Joseph Scott Pemberton who is accused of killing Filipino transgender Laude in Olongapo City.
US Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer reportedly said Sunday that the four witnesses “are not here anymore.”
During the regular press briefing, Jose said that there is no legal impediment in the departure of the four witnesses given that they are not the respondents to the case.
“They are witnesses, there is no case against them. What is important is the trial because as witnesses, they will take the witness stand and be cross-examined. It is important during the trial that they are present,” Jose said.
“In the preliminary investigation stage, they have already given their sworn statements so the prosecutor felt they are no longer necessary to attend the preliminary investigation,” he said.
Pemberton has been urged to appear before the prosecutor during the preliminary investigation on October 21 “for his own sake” and also so he would be able to give his statement.
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