MANILA (Mabuhay) – A lawyer of the Laude family believes an international criminal complaint may be filed against US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton if he is acquitted here in the Philippines for the killing of transgender Jennifer Laude.
Virgie Suarez, the legal counsel of the Laude family, said filing a new case against Pemberton before an international body could happen if he is acquitted by the local court hearing his murder case.
“Of course, we are also thinking about that. I cannot discuss it yet here but yes, there is still a way how to run after Pemberton. That would mean an international case, complaint,” Suarez said.
Suarez said the Olongapo Regional Trial Court branch hearing the Laude murder case has until December 14 year to meet the one-year prescriptive period set forth in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“We will be informed if the court will be able to resolve it earlier than December 14. As of now, there is no indication yet,” she said.
Suarez said the prosecution can no longer appeal should the court acquit Pemberton.
“If he is considered not guilty, he can be immediately deported,” Suarez said.
“Only a guilty verdict can be appealed. An acquittal is unappealable. If he is acquitted, the deportation proceedings can proceed.”
Meanwhile, Suarez said the Laude family welcomes the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) decision ordering Pemberton’s deportation.
She clarified that deportation proceedings can only start once Pemberton finishes serving his sentence in the event he is found guilty.
“It is a good thing Pemberton is declared finally as an undesirable. But to deport him immediately is not right. That would mean according him impunity, practically setting him free,” she said.
Suarez said the deportation case against Pemberton was actually started by the Laudes in response to the deportation of Laude’s German boyfriend, Marc Sueselbeck.
“At that time, we were saying that if Marc Sueselbeck was declared undesirable, all the more reason Pemberton should be declared undesirable for having committed such a heinous crime,” she said.
The prosecution and defense panels have already submitted their summations.
Laude family lawyer Harry Roque earlier said the prosecution panel reiterated its position that based on actual and circumstantial pieces of evidence, Pemberton killed Laude on October 11 last year inside an Olongapo City lodge.
The prosecution panel maintained that Laude was strangled and died due to asphyxia.
Roque, in his summation, stressed that Pemberton killed Laude after he found out that she was a transgender.
Roque said the Laude family must be indemnified with P200 million for moral and exemplary damages.
The defense panel, meanwhile, said the court cannot issue a guilty verdict on Pemberton, saying there is a possibility that a third person was inside the motel room on the night of Laude’s killing. (MNS)