A Philippine court found a U.S. Marine guilty of killing a transgender woman on Tuesday, jailing him for six to 12 years in a case that has reignited debate over the American military presence in its former colony.
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.
Pemberton will serve a minimum of six years and a maximum of 12 years in jail. He had been charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser offense of homicide, which does not require malicious intent.
He can appeal against the verdict and sentence.
Pemberton had earlier admitted in court to choking, but not killing, Laude. He said he had acted in self-defense after he discovered that a man was giving him oral sex, not a woman.
The case has stirred debate over the presence of American soldiers on Philippine soil after senators voted two decades ago to kick out U.S. bases because of social issues, such as crimes committed by servicemen.
The United States has raised military aid to the Philippines this year as tension rises in the region over China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea.