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25860: Hermantin(News)Haitian radio host defends comments that may have landed Jean-Jus (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Haitian radio host defends comments that may have landed Jean-Juste in prison
By Alva James-Johnson
July 27, 2005
Karyne Sylvestre doesn't regret making radio comments that may have landed a
priest in Haiti's National Penetentiary last week.
The host of Radio Madoken, a Haitian program on Radio Mega 1020 AM, said she
received credible information from someone who said that the Rev. Gérard
Jean-Juste, a longtime Haitian activist and staunch supporter of former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was planning terrorist attacks against the
Caribbean country. So she informed the public.
"I didn't harm any person. I don't have the right to do so," she said. "This
was information to the Haitian people to protect democracy."
Ira Kurzban, Jean-Juste's attorney in Miami, has threatened to file a
defamation lawsuit against Sylvestre and Radio Mega's owner, Alex Saint Surin,
if the July 14 comments aren't retracted.
Sylvestre said she won't retract, and Saint Surin's attorney, Kertch Conze,
said the station isn't liable. He said Sylvestre, who leases time on the radio
station, is an independent contractor and her comments followed a disclaimer
that was broadcast releasing the station of liability.
As Sylvestre defended her actions Tuesday, Jean-Juste's supporters gathered at
the Haitian consulate in Miami to protest his arrest. They carried photos of
malnourished children, and called for the U.S. government to help stop
injustice they say is rampant in their country.
"They keep the assassins free and the good people like Jean-Juste are put in
jail," said Eve Rose, who moved to Miami from Haiti 15 years ago.
Sylvestre, meanwhile, said she and her family had received threats from
Aristide supporters on radio stations and Web sites in New York, New Jersey and
"They said I'm carrying my coffin to be buried," she said. "My kids are very
scared about that."
Sylvestre made the allegations against Jean-Juste July 14, saying he was in
Miami to collect an undisclosed amount of money from Aristide, who is now
exiled in South Africa. She told her audience that the priest planned to use
the money to recruit mercenaries for terrorist attacks to begin by July 17.
She said she received the tip from a credible source the night before, but
couldn't reveal where she got the information.
U.S. Customs agents detained and searched the priest when he arrived at Miami
International Airport a day later. His attorneys said the search was based on
allegations similar to those made by Sylvestre.
Bill Quigley, Jean-Juste's attorney in Haiti, said the agents found nothing
more than a Bible, some rosaries and his clothes.
In Haiti, he appeared before a Haitian judge on charges that he plotted against
the security of the state. After his release, he was arrested when he attended
a funeral where mourners attacked him and accused him of murdering Haitian
journalist Jacques Roche.
Jean-Juste, now a resident of Haiti, is the former director of the Haitian
Refugee Center in Miami. In October, he was arrested by the interim government
and spent seven weeks in jail.
Within the past year, he has emerged as the spokesman for Aristide's Fanmi
Lavalas party, vowing that the party would boycott upcoming elections unless
Aristide is returned to office.
But on Monday, the party seemed divided over the issue.
Louis Gérald Gilles, a former Lavalas senator in Haiti, said party members were
in talks with Aristide to make a public statement calling for participation the
"We have the obligation to join the elections and to win them," Gilles said at
a meeting of political parties organized in Port-au-Prince by the Haiti's
interim government and the United Nations.
Staff Writer Ginelle G. Torres and The Associated Press contributed to this
Alva James-Johnson can be reached at email@example.com or
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel