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25208: Wharram - News -Former Haiti premier gets his day in court (fwd)
>From Bruce Wharram <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Former Haiti premier gets his day in court
Thursday, May 26, 2005
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Haitian authorities took former prime minister
Yvon Neptune before a judge yesterday to hear charges of orchestrating
political killings, more than a month after he started a hunger strike to
protest his nearly year-long incarceration without charge.
NEPTUNE... on hunger strike since April 17
Neptune went before a judge in a close-door session in the western town of
The former premier is accused of masterminding the killings of political
opponents during the February 2004 rebellion that ousted President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said Pierre Esperance, whose National Network for
the Defence of Human Rights has been monitoring Neptune's case.
International pressure had been mounting on the interim government to either
charge or free Neptune, who denies wrongdoing and started a hunger strike
April 17 to demand his unconditional release.
UN officials said Neptune had been taken to St Marc in a UN vehicle, but
declined to comment on his health.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has denied claims from family members
and others that Neptune was nearing death, saying the former premier has
been drinking water with sugar, salt and vitamins and was in stable
The judge was expected to read Neptune the charges and evaluate the evidence
to determine how to proceed with the case.
It was unclear whether Neptune was accompanied by a lawyer. Mario Joseph, an
attorney who has been representing Neptune, said the government had not
notified him about the hearing.
The interim government accuses Neptune of being behind the killings of at
least 25 Aristide opponents in St Marc several weeks before Aristide was
ousted on February 29, 2004.