MANILA - The United States will keep custody of a Marine suspected in the murder of a transgender Filipina he met in a bar, the head of the Philippine military said Tuesday. "Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the custody of the erring soldier stays with the Americans," General Gregorio Catapang said after a meeting with Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command.
Chuck Little, a spokesman for U.S. Marines in the Pacific, said Locklear had told all U.S. warships remotely related to the incident to remain in the country pending an investigation into the killing of Jeffrey Laude, known as 'Jennifer'. The 26-year-old was found strangled on Saturday in Olongapo City. The identity of the suspect, who has yet to be charged, has not been disclosed by the U.S. military. If charges are filed, the serviceman would be tried in local courts, according to Catapang. The Marine was in the custody of military officials aboard the USS Peleliu, the U.S. Navy Times said. Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma assured the family of Laude, who also went by the name Jennifer, that the Philippine government would make every effort to secure justice.