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26298: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti's jailed ex-PM formally charged in killings (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept 20 (Reuters) - An investigative judge has
formally charged Haiti's jailed former prime minister, Yvon Neptune, with
masterminding the killings of political opponents last year, radio reports
said on Tuesday.
Neptune, who served under ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has
been held for more than a year on suspicion of involvement in the killings
of up to 50 people near St. Marc, about 60 miles (96 km) north of
Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 11, 2004. He has said his arrest was politically
Judge Clunie Pierre Jules decided to send the case against Neptune to
a criminal court, formalizing the charges against him, according to private
Other radio stations, including Radio Metropole, Radio Kiskeya and
Radio Vision 2000, carried similar reports, but they could not be
independently confirmed. A court official in St. Marc said the judge had
issued the report but would not discuss its contents.
Cases against a total of 30 people were sent before the criminal
court, including three other members of Aristide's cabinet -- ex-Interior
Minister Jocelerme Privert, former Justice Minister Calixte Delatour and
former Secretary of State for Public Safety Jean Gerard Dubreuil, the
The charges came as Haiti prepared for presidential and legislative
elections in November, the first since Aristide was ousted on Feb. 29,
2004. He left Haiti during a bloody rebellion by armed gangs and former
soldiers, under pressure from Washington and Paris to quit.
Haiti has been run by a U.S.-backed interim government but still
plagued by violence since Aristide's departure, despite the presence of
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the interim government
for imprisoning hundreds of Aristide supporters and members of his Lavalas
The U.N. special envoy to Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdes, called for
Neptune's release in August and said his detention was a source of concern
for the U.N. Security Council.
Judge Jules indicted Neptune because of evidence linking him to people
accused of the killings, the radio reports said.
But she said there was not enough evidence to link Aristide and 32 of
his allies to the crimes, recommending they be exempt from prosecution,
Radio Solidarity said.
Mario Joseph, a lawyer who once defended Neptune, said the indictment
was politically motivated and Neptune and other Aristide allies were being
used as scapegoats.
"There was no reason to arrest Neptune and there is no reason today to
indict him on charges he had masterminded any crime," Joseph told Reuters.
The report indicated people were massacred by members of Bale Wouze, a
political group linked to Aristide's party.
But a U.N. independent expert on human rights, Louis Joinet, rejected
the notion of a massacre after he visited St. Marc in April. Joinet said
people who died were killed in confrontations between pro- and
anti-Aristide groups and there were victims on both sides.