Philippines won't dismiss US Marine's murder case

Philippines won't dismiss US Marine's murder case

Manila (AFP) - A request by a US marine accused of murdering a Filipino transexual that the case against him be thrown out was dismissed Tuesday, with the Philippine justice ministry saying there was sufficient evidence to try him.

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton is accused of murdering Filipina Jennifer Laude, 26, in the port city of Olongapo in October.

"There is no reason to alter, modify or reverse the resolution" of the charges, said Jose Vicente Salazar, justice ministry undersecretary.

"The convergence of foregoing circumstances all taken together, leads to the fair reasonable inference that (the) respondent is probably guilty of killing Laude, through treachery, abuse of superior strength, and cruelty,? Salazar said in a 12-page resolution.

Pemberton's lawyers have argued that the evidence linking him to the killing is "based on nothing but conjectures and speculations".

But Salazar cited closed-circuit TV footage of Pemberton and Laude leaving a club together before the murder, testimony by hotel personnel, and physical evidence allegedly backing up the prosecutor's decision to charge the US serviceman.

Laude's body was found at a cheap hotel in Olongapo's red light where police say she had checked in with Pemberton.

The murder case against Pemberton was filed with an Olongapo court which issued a formal arrest warrant for him in December.

The decision by the department now paves the way for his trial in Olongapo to resume, though it was unclear Tuesday when hearings would begin.

The high-profile case has inflamed anti-US sentiment in the Philippines and strained relations between the longtime allies.

Pemberton is currently under US military guard at a Philippine military base in Manila and the US government has refused to hand over custody to Philippine authorities. However he has appeared in court for the booking process.