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25968: (news) Chamberlain: U.S. envoy criticizes release of Haiti rebel (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Haiti
on Friday called the release from jail of a former death squad leader "a
scandal" and criticized the detention of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune
as a human rights violation.
U.S. Ambassador James Foley said the release on Thursday of Louis
Jodel Chamblain, who helped lead the armed rebellion that drove president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power last year, was proof that Haiti's
judicial system was not working.
Chamblain is a former army officer who was one of the leaders of the
paramilitary group Front for the Advancement of Progress of the Haitian
People, which was blamed for some 3,000 deaths after a military coup ousted
Aristide in 1991 during his first presidency.
"The release of Chamblain is a scandal for the country and for its
image around the world," said Foley, who is about to leave his post in
Chamblain was convicted of the 1993 murder of a Haitian businessman
and for the 1994 killings of more than two dozen people in the northern
city of Gonaives.
He surrendered in April 2004 under international pressure. His
convictions were overturned but Haitian authorities continued to detain him
on other allegations.
Chamblain was released on Thursday after judicial authorities decided
there was no evidence to hold him.
"We know that he is a man who had been found guilty on several
occasions of horrible crimes," Foley said. "Imagine, one moment, the
tarnished image of Haiti today, with Chamblain being released and a former
prime minister who continues to stagnate in prison."
Neptune, who served as prime minister under Aristide, was arrested in
June 2004 on allegations he masterminded killings in the village of La
Syrie in February 2004.
Neptune has denied the accusations and has accused the U.S.-backed
interim government of holding him for political reasons. Human rights
groups have criticized the government for jailing hundreds of Aristide
Foley said Neptune's detention was a violation of human rights and
questioned whether he was involved in the deaths in La Syrie.
"Was he part of it, did he give any order?" Foley said. "No one has
ever provided the least evidence, the least clue, the least testimony about
Neptune's involvement ... They bear a grudge against him for Aristide's
Aristide left Haiti on Feb. 29, 2004, in the face of an armed
rebellion and under pressure from Washington and Paris. He is living in
exile in South Africa.