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Jennifer Laude case: Duterte pardons US marine over transgender killing

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US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (C) is escorted by U.S. security officers into a court in Olongapo city, north of Manila December 1, 2015.Image copyright
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Joseph Pemberton (C) was tried for murder in 2015

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has drawn criticism from rights groups after pardoning a US marine convicted of killing a transgender woman.

Mr Duterte issued on the pardon on Monday to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been in prison since 2014 for the murder of Jennifer Laude.

Pemberton has served just over half of a 10-year sentence for the murder.

Virginia Suarez, a lawyer for Laude’s family, called the decision a “mockery” of the country’s justice system.

The pardon was announced by Mr Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque. “The president has erased the remaining punishment against Pemberton,” said. “He can now go home because of the pardon.”

The former US marine had been granted early release last week by a local court, for good behaviour, but the decision was being held pending an appeal by lawyers for Laude’s family. That process was negated by the pardon.

There was no immediate announcement of a release date.

Lawyer Virginia Suarez said in a statement: “This is another injustice, not only to Jennifer Laude and family but a grave injustice to the Philippine people. This is a travesty of Philippine sovereignty and democracy,” Ms Suarez said in a statement.

Pemberton met Laude in a bar in Olangapo in October 2014, while he was on leave after joint US-Philippines military exercises. Police said the pair checked into a hotel, where she was found dead the following day, slumped over the toilet, apparently strangled.

The marine testified in court that he had attacked Laude after he realised she was transgender, but claimed she was still alive when he left the room.

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Official feed of BBC News, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, it is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees.

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Covid-19: Global deaths may hit two million before vaccine in use – WHO

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The WHO’s warning comes as a number of European countries are facing a spike in infections

The global coronavirus death toll could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely used, the World Health Organization has warned.

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies head, said the figure could be even higher without concerted international action.

The number of Covid-19 deaths is fast approaching one million – nine months after the outbreak started in China.

Mr Ryan also urged Europeans to ask themselves whether they had done enough to avoid the need for lockdowns.

He questioned whether all the alternatives had been implemented, like testing and tracing, quarantine, isolation, social distancing, wearing masks and hand-washing.

Earlier, Spain’s capital Madrid brought another eight districts under tougher coronavirus restrictions, which now affect a

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Breonna Taylor: family ‘never had faith’ in police prosecution

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Media caption“I’m am an angry black woman”: Breonna Taylor’s mother gives her reaction in a statement read by her sister

A man accused of shooting two policemen in Louisville, Kentucky amid racial justice protests has been ordered to be held in jail on $1m (£786,000) bail.

Larynzo Johnson, 26, was arrested hours after it was announced that no murder charges would be brought for Breonna Taylor’s death during a police raid.

The decision sparked days of unrest and the city is under a weekend curfew.

Ms Taylor’s family has demanded that a grand jury transcript of her case be released to the public.

The grand jury on Wednesday had returned charges of ‘wonton endangerment’ against one former officer. However, the decision not to lay charges for killing Ms Taylor triggered protests around the US.

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Larynzo Johnson is accused of shooting at police officers

Over 127 people were arrested on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, Louisville police arrested at least 27 protesters, including the only African-American lawmaker in the Kentucky legislature.

What does the Taylor family want?

In a news conference on Friday, Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Taylor family, led chants of “release the transcripts,” and accused Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron of failing to mount a strong enough case to the grand jury to secure murder charges against the three officers who fired bullets into Ms Taylor’s home in Louisville on 13 March.

Police entered her flat during a drug raid, though none were later found.

“What did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury? Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor’s behalf?” Mr Crump asked.

“Or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers?”

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Reuters

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Tamika Palmer, Ms Taylor’s mum, cried as her statement was read by her sister

Ms Taylor’s family had called for all three officers to be arrested for murder, but only one has been charged. Brett Hankison, who was fired from the police force in June, is accused of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony, for firing shots into Ms Taylor’s neighbour’s apartment.

In her first public statement since the grand jury’s ruling, Ms Taylor mother said she “never had faith” in the prosecutor, Mr Cameron, who is Kentucky’s first ever black attorney general.

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Breonna Taylor was an emergency medical technician

“I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith

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Attack outside former Charlie Hebdo office in Paris ‘clearly act of Islamist terrorism’ – French interior minister

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A meat cleaver attack that seriously injured two people outside the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris is being treated as an act of Islamist terrorism by French authorities.

Two employees of the Premieres Lignes news production agency were outside their office in the 11th arrondissement on Friday when they were attacked by a knife-wielding man. They were “very badly wounded,” Premieres Lignes founder Paul Moreira told AFP.

The attack took place near the former address of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical newspaper whose staff was massacred in a 2015 attack by Islamist militants. The 14 alleged accomplices in that attack are currently on trial in Paris.

Charlie Hebdo eventually reopened at a different address in Paris, which is being kept secret for security reasons.

AFP reports that five men have been detained, including the suspected attacker. The PNAT anti-terrorism prosecution office said it has opened an investigation, with charges of “attempted murder related to a terrorist enterprise” and “conspiracy with terrorists.”

PNAT head Jean-Francois Ricard said the main suspect is an 18-year-old man, reportedly born in Pakistan.

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