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Philippines Pardons, Deports US Marine Convicted of Killing Transgender Woman

In this photo provided by the Philippines' Bureau of Immigration Public Information Office, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, center, arrives at the airport before boarding a U.S. military plane in Manila, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2020.

A U.S. Marine convicted in the Philippines of killing a transgender woman was released from prison Sunday, after receiving a pardon from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton served about half of his 10-year sentence for killing Jennifer Laude in 2014 in a Philippine motel after discovering she was a transgender woman.

Pemberton boarded a military aircraft Sunday morning for his flight back to the United States.

In a statement, he said he had “spent much time contemplating the many errors in his ways” and expressed his “most sincere sympathy” to Laude’s family.

Laude’s mother said in a statement, “Ten years in prison is all we are asking ... It’s a short time to pay in jail for the life of my daughter.”

Pemberton’s conviction and subsequent pardon stirred controversy about the Visiting Forces Agreement, a bilateral pact regulating procedures involving U.S. military personnel in the Philippines.

Many feel the agreement allows members of U.S. forces to receive special treatment if they break the law in the Philippines.