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26003: Hermantin(news)Priest jailed in Haiti needs medical care, lawyer says (fwd)
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 11:07:12 -0400
Posted on Thu, Aug. 18, 2005
Priest jailed in Haiti needs medical care, lawyer says
A former Miami priest was weak and in need of medical care after briefly losing
consciousness in his prison cell in Haiti, a visiting lawyer said.
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
A former Miami priest jailed in Haiti is weak and needs medical help but was in
good spirits two days after collapsing in his prison cell, said a U.S. lawyer
who visited him Tuesday.
The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, who led Haitian community groups in Miami before he
moved to his native country, lost consciousness on Sunday for about 20 minutes
in his tiny cell, said Loyola University professor Bill Quigley.
''He told me he thought he almost died on Sunday,'' said Quigley, who is
working with Jean-Juste's Haitian lawyers to secure his release.
''He's sick, there is no doubt about it,'' Quigley said. ``There is something
[wrong] with him, and I think it's very serious when a man near 60 is kept in
an incredibly hot area, loses consciousness and does not get adequate medical
The Catholic priest collapsed in his cell, about eight feet by two feet, at the
National Penitentiary. Prisoners carried him on their backs to the infirmary,
Quigley said by phone from Port-au-Prince.
Jean-Juste was detained July 21 amid allegations of involvement in the murder
of a Haitian journalist. It is the second time Jean-Juste has been arrested
since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled into exile early last year.
Jean-Juste is a prominent Aristide supporter and still calls for his return to
Quigley said that during his 30-minute visit Tuesday in the warden's office, he
noticed Jean-Juste had lost 15 to 20 pounds even though his parishioners bring
him food every day. The priest complained about skin rashes, and pain in his
neck, arms and legs.
He said Jean-Juste sleeps on a one-inch thick rubber mat in the ''extremely
hot'' and ''smelly'' cell he shares with another prisoner.
Quigley, accompanying the priest when he was arrested, said no official charges
have been filed against him.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, in Miami on Wednesday for knee surgery,
directed Herald inquiries to the justice ministry. It could not be reached for
A letter-writing campaign by several groups, including 29 in the U.S. Congress,
has failed to win Jean-Juste's release. In a reply dictated to Quigley,
Jean-Juste thanked his supporters saying, ``I read the letter and you are so
strong and clear. Well said! I wish our church leaders were so strong and
Church leaders in Haiti have said little of his arrest.
Lavarice Gaudin, a member of Miami's pro-Aristide watchdog group Veye Yo, said
Jean-Juste was arrested because he is viewed as a possible candidate in Haiti's
Nov. 6 presidential elections: ``That's the big thing behind it.''