Not guilty plea entered for US marine charged for murder of trans woman

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A not guilty plea has been entered in the Philippines on behalf of the US marine charged with the murder of a transgender woman.

This comes after 26-year-old Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck was found strangled in October, naked with her head in a toilet near a US Navy Base.

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton – who was one of hundreds of US marines in the area for a training exercise – was formally charged of the woman’s murder a few days later.

Pemberton, accompanied by security escorts, refused to enter a plea to the charge of murder in the court in Olongapo, and journalists were barred from the courtroom, reports the Associated Press.

His lawyer last year filed a motion to “declare the absence of probable cause for murder or any other crime”.

The head of public prosecution later announced that a lawsuit had been filed, saying there was a strong case after a review of evidence.

A witness has claimed Laude’s body was discovered after she shared a room alone with Pemberton at Celzone lodge.

Pemberton failed to make an appearance during preliminary investigation in October.

Politicians in the Philippines are pushing for a tougher anti-discrimination law following the incident, which has also stirred anti-US sentiment.