Philippine police accuse U.S. Marine in transgender murder case

Protesters shout slogans during a rally at the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand justice for the killing of Filipino Jennifer Laude with a U.S. Marine as a possible suspect Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The activists demanded that Washington hand over to the Philippines a Marine implicated in the killing of Laude which the demonstrators labeled a hate crime. Bullit Marquez, AP

Protesters shout slogans during a rally at the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand justice for the killing of Filipino Jennifer Laude with a U.S. Marine as a possible suspect Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The activists demanded that Washington hand over to the Philippines a Marine implicated in the killing of Laude which the demonstrators labeled a hate crime. Bullit Marquez, AP

Protesters shout slogans during a rally at the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand justice for the killing of Filipino Jennifer Laude with a U.S. Marine as a possible suspect Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The activists demanded that Washington hand over to the Philippines a Marine implicated in the killing of Laude which the demonstrators labeled a hate crime.

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police filed a murder complaint Wednesday against a U.S. Marine, who has been accused of killing a transgender Filipino in an emotional case that is expected to test the country’s relations with the United States.

Police Chief Inspector Gil Domingo said Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton was the last person seen with the victim late Saturday, when they checked into a motel after meeting in a disco bar in Olongapo city northwest of Manila.

Jennifer Laude, 26, was found with her head resting on the motel room’s toilet bowl, apparently after being drowned, Domingo said. The criminal complaint was filed before government prosecutors, who would decide formal charges. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy.

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Pemberton took part in combat exercises involving thousands of American and Filipino troops. He is being held on the USS Peleliu in the Subic Bay free port, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Manila, according to U.S. military officials.

Dozens of activists burned a mock U.S. flag in a protest at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday and tearfully demanded that Washington hand over Pemberton to Philippine authorities. They called for abolishing the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows U.S. forces to join large-scale combat exercises with Filipino troops and which allows the U.S. to take custody of its soldiers who run afoul of Philippine laws.

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