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25794: Severe(pub) Gerard Jean Juste in "protective custody" (fwd)
From: Constantin Severe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Haiti official accuses Aristide backers in murder
Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:17 PM ET
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - A government minister speaking at the funeral
on Thursday of a Haitian journalist kidnapped and killed this month blamed the
slaying on supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Police jailed a prominent Aristide supporter, the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, later
in the day for possible involvement in the killing of the journalist, Jacques
Roche, who was head of the culture section of the Haitian daily newspaper Le
Roche was abducted on July 10. His mutilated body was found last Thursday on a
street in Port-au-Prince.
During a speech at the end of the funeral in a suburb of the capital, Haitian
Culture Minister Magalie Comeau Denis said armed gangs loyal to Aristide killed
Roche to back demands the former president return to Haiti.
Aristide was forced to flee the country on Feb. 29, 2004, in the face of an
armed revolt and U.S. and French pressure to quit. His administration was
replaced by a U.S.-backed interim government.
"They killed Jacques and abandoned his body on the streets for all of us to
see, in order to frighten us," Denis said from the church's pulpit. "We are not
afraid. We will never be afraid."
Denis accused Aristide's Lavalas Family party of trying to disrupt the
electoral process. The interim government plans to hold national elections in
At the church, a group of Aristide opponents attacked Jean-Juste, a Roman
Catholic priest and leading figure in Aristide's Lavalas Family party, as he
arrived to pay tribute to the slain journalist.
Jean-Juste was led to safety by Haitian police and U.N. peacekeeping troops but
was held at a police station and questioned for the rest of the day. On
Thursday evening, he was locked in a cell on suspicion of involvement in
Roche's murder, said Mario Joseph, Jean-Juste's lawyer.
Last October, Jean-Juste was hauled away from his church while he was feeding
street children and was jailed for nearly seven weeks. His imprisonment rallied
to his side human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which called
on the Haitian government to improve its human rights record.
Joseph called the latest allegations "ridiculous" and said Jean-Juste was out
of the country at the time of the killing.
A spokesman for Aristide's party, James Derozin, rejected any attempt to link
Lavalas to the killing.
"If anyone committing violence and other criminal activities claims he is a
member of Lavalas Family, we say it is not true," Derozin said. "Those who
believe in violence are our opponents, because they used violence to overthrow
President Aristide, a democratically elected leader."