(CNN)A United States Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman has been released from prison and deported from the Philippines on Sunday, after President Rodrigo Duterte granted him an “absolute pardon” earlier this week.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton had served roughly six years of a 10-year sentence for homicide when Duterte’s decision to pardon him was announced by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. on Monday.
The U.S. Marine had been found guilty of killing 26-year-old Jennifer Laude in a motel room in October 2014, while he was in the Philippines for military exercises.
As a result of the President’s action, Pemberton boarded a military plane bound for the U.S. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly after 9 a.m. local time on Sunday morning, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration said in a statement seen by CNN.
Pemberton was deported because “the Bureau saw he was a risk to public safety,” the statement added.
Commissioner Jaime Morente of the Bureau of Immigration said that because of his deportation order Pemberton was “perpetually” banned from returning to the country.
The move to release Pemberton early was met with protest and criticism this week, with Edre Olalia, the president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, describing the pardon as “unbelievable.”
The controversial decision came a week after a court said Pemberton should be given credit for good conduct during his time at Camp Aguinaldo military prison in Quezon City.
However, critics claimed it was easy for him to behave well as he did not serve his sentence with the general prison population.
Pemberton, who was aged 19 at the time of his conviction, told police that he had choked Laude in anger when he found out that she had male genitalia.
The naked body of Laude was discovered with her head in the toilet in an Olongapo hotel room on October 12, 2014.
By : Brad Lendon, Isaac Yee and Rory Sullivan – CNN