Latortue Government just as Lax as its Predecessor
Extract from Reporters Without Borders open letter to Haiti’s presidential candidates 10 October 2005 (preamble): The situation of journalists and the media is a key indicator of a country’s democratic health. Reporters Without Borders, an organisation dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, again saw how true this is during a field mission to Haiti from 22 to 28 September.
On the Jean Dominique murder ‘investigation’:
More than five years have passed since the double murder of Dominique, Radio Haïti Inter’s director and political commentator, and the station’s caretaker, Jean-Claude Louissaint, on 3 April 2000 in Port-au-Prince. The judicial investigation, concluded on 21 March 2003, resulted in the indictment and arrest of six members of armed gangs known as “chimères.” They were Dymsley “Ti Lou” Milien, Jeudi “Guimy” Jean-Daniel, Philippe Markington, Ralph Léger, Freud Junior Demarattes and Ralph Joseph. The charges against the last three were dropped by an appeal court on 4 August 2003.
We were dismayed to learn that Ti Lou, Guimy and Markington took advantage of a prison riot in February 2005 to escape. During Reporters Without Borders’ latest visit to Haiti, in September, several sources close to the Dominique investigation told us that Ti Lou and Guimy are now in Martissant, a district on the south side of Port-au-Prince, where they have become gang leaders. If they have been located, why have they not been recaptured and returned to prison?
The Reporters Without Borders delegation that visited Haiti in June 2004 obtained assurances from interim President Boniface Alexandre, Prime Minister Gérard Latortue and then justice minister Bernard Gousse that the judicial proceedings in the Dominique case would be relaunched. The supreme court issued a ruling on 29 June 2004 ordering a new investigation. Thereafter it took nearly a year for an investigative judge to be properly appointed, and then he was unable to work.
Is it normal that the justice minister publicly announced on 3 April 2005, the fifth anniversary of Dominique’s death, that a judge had been put in charge of the case, and yet the judge has not been able to see a single piece of evidence in the file? Is it normal that the two letters which this judge sent to the justice minister requesting the necessary resources to carry out this investigation never received a reply? Is it also normal that the promise of resources (car, driver and bodyguards) made to the judge by Gousse’s successor as justice minister, Henri Dorléans, was never acted on?
These highly questionable failures and omissions compound the many others that have dogged the case since the outset. Former Port-au-Prince deputy mayor Harold Sévère and Ostide “Douze” Pétion were arrested on 14 March 2004 on suspicion of involvement in the Dominique murder. Annette “Sò Anne” Auguste, Aristide’s liaison with “popular organisations,” who was arrested in connection with another case on 10 May 2004 in Port-au-Prince, was later alleged to be also linked to the Dominique case. Nonetheless, none of these suspects has undergone the least interrogation. Similarly, there has never been any attempt to verify the alleged hit-man Ti Lou’s claim that he was paid 10,000 dollars to kill Dominique. Finally, no light has ever been shed on the suspicious deaths of two witnesses.
The Reporters Without Borders open letter concluded with a call for the Haitian National Police to arrest the Dominique murder suspects who are still at large and circulate openly.