MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has pardoned a U.S. Marine in a surprise move that will free him from imprisonment in the 2014 killing of a transgender Filipino woman that sparked anger in the former American colony.

The foreign secretary said the president granted an "absolute pardon" to Lance Cpl. and New Bedford native Joseph Scott Pemberton "to do justice," but did not elaborate.

A left-wing human rights group immediately condemned the pardon as a "despicable and shameless mockery of justice."

Pemberton was convicted of homicide and has been serving a prison term of six to 10 years for the killing of Jennifer Laude in a motel in a city northwest of Manila.

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