OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines - U.S. security escorts were delaying handing over a U.S. Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman to Philippine police who had been ordered to bring him to the national penitentiary to serve his sentence, a lawyer for the victim said on Tuesday.
The Olongapo City regional trial court found Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty of homicide, jailing him for six to 12 years in a case that has reignited debate over the American military presence in the country.
The court ordered that Pemberton be temporarily held in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, south of the capital, until the Philippines and U.S. government agree on where he should serve his sentence as prescribed under a visiting forces agreement.
Lawyer Harry Roque said there was a standoff inside the court between U.S. security and local police over the custody of Pemberton. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.
The justice department intervened to avoid a confrontation asking local authorities to take Pemberton back to the Philippine army base under police escort. But the victim's lawyers said the court order must prevail.