OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - A Philippine court on Tuesday found a U.S. Marine guilty of killing a transgender woman, jailing him for six to 12 years in a case that has reignited debate over the American military presence in the country.
The Olongapo City regional trial court also ordered Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton to pay more than 4.5 million pesos ($95,350) to the family of Jennifer Laude, who was found dead last year in a hotel outside the former U.S. navy base northwest of Manila.
He will serve a minimum of six years and a maximum of 12 years in jail. Laude had been charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser offence of homicide, which does not require malicious intent. He can appeal against the verdict and sentence.
Pemberton will 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.
The case has divided the country as left-wing groups urged government to terminate all military deals with the United States because they were unfavorable to the Philippines.
($1 = 47.1950 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie)