Thursday, May 8, 2014
Jean Dominique is a Haitian journalist who was assassinated in April 3, 2000. For the past fourteen years judges and the Attorneys General of Haiti who were in charge of the case, were victims of intimidation, sabotage and forced resignation by members of the former Aristide Administration trying to protect the killers (see: http://www.haitipolicy.org/content/178.htm ). Many witnesses to the Dominique killing over the years were targeted and killed (see: http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article14345 ) along with many Haitian journalists.
For the first time in twenty-five years, a Haitian judge, Ivickel Dabresil, has demonstrated the courage to pursue this important investigation into the Jean Dominique assassination to bring those responsible to justice. Judge Dabresil concluded his investigation, which is now public in accordance with Haitian law, identified the nine persons who masterminded and executed Jean Dominique. He requested their imprisonment. The report identified the mastermind of the crime as a former Lavalas senator, Mirlande Libérus Pavert, a close associate of Jean Bertrand Aristide now residing in Florida. According to testimony by Aristide’s security chief, she was given the mission to silence Jean Dominique to ensure that he would not interfere with Aristide’s plan to return to power in 2000. Eight others responsible for the crime are also identified in the report. Voodoo priest, Annette Auguste, alias Sô Ann, a Lavalas activist; former Deputy Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Gabriel Harold Sévère; Frantz Camille, alias Franco Camille; Jeudy Jean Daniel; Markington Michel Mérité; Dimsley Milien; and Toussaint Mercidieu are among those implicated. For more details see: http://radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article9968 Markington Michel fled Haiti into hiding. He was arrested by the police in Argentina this week and will be extradited in Haiti. For more details see: http://www.haitian-truth.org/suspect-in-killing-of-haitis-famous-journalist-held-in-argentina/
In a communiqué released on May 3, 2014, SOS Journalistes called on the Argentine government's to provide special protection to the detained suspect lest he be killed as other key witnesses and co- accused in the murder of Jean Dominique had been in the past. The head of SOS Journalists, Joseph Guyler C. Delva, expressed the concerns of the organization about "the safety of Markington Philippe who is an extremely important element in the investigation into the assassination of Jean Dominique, as several other witnesses and alleged perpetrators of the crime have been eliminated, with the obvious purpose of avoiding overwhelming testimonies and to clear clues and evidence. Therefore, we call on the Argentine government to ensure that those who visit Markington Philippe or those who feed him are subject to strict control by relevant clearance entities to avoid that he be assassinated by those who would not want him to speak, " For more details see: http://hcnn.ht/en/201405/local/281/SOS-Journalistes-calls-on-Argentine-government-to-provide-special-protection-to-detained-suspect-Haiti-Argentina-Jean-Dominique-Guy-Delva-SOS-Journalistes.htm
The Haiti judicial system is making significant progress to bring the killers to justice. How did they get there? In January 2013 Judge Dabresil summoned former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, former Fanmi Lavalas Senator Danny Toussaint and former President Rene Preval for interrogation.
On May 8, 2013, Aristide was also summoned by the Judge. One of the investigative scenarios named the former President as a suspect in the killing of Jean Dominique. According to that scenario, he ordered Dominique killed for two reasons: first, Dominique was a harsh critic of the corruption and abuse of power by Aristide; and second, with the support of President Preval, Dominique was going to be a candidate with the political organization Koze Pep in the November 2000 Presidential elections thus undermining Aristide plan to return to power, for more see the following two links:
After receiving the judge’s summons, the Aristide propaganda machine (a website call Haiti Action) swung into action lobbying in Haiti and overseas attempting to politicize and undermine these judicial proceeding by creating various political diversions. While his well-paid lobbyists are trying to make it about his return to politics, in Haiti, the debate is not political but legal. Aristide’s foreign lobbyists are doing their best in their continuing attempt to undermine Haiti’s judicial system. Many readers may recall that with Haitian tax payer money, Jean Bertrand Aristide made Ira Kurzban, board member of the Miami Herald and current lawyer for Mirlande Liberus, the crime mastermind, and Brian Concannon of Institute of Democracy and Justice (see: http://www.haitipolicy.org/Lobbying7.htm ) millionaires with lucrative consulting contracts. There is only one central question that the Haitians and their judicial system are trying to answer after fourteen years: who killed journalist Jean Dominique?
Toussaint, Neptune and Preval responded peacefully and cooperated with the judge’s summon. They each answered the judge’s questions for hours.
Jean Bertrand Aristide’s behavior toward these judicial proceedings was completely different. Aristide has always acted as if he is above the law in Haiti. Last January, after the victims of his cooperative scheme who stole millions filed a complaint with the office of the Attorney General Lucmane Delile, Aristide refused to respond to the legal summons. With threats and violence, Aristide forced the Attorney General to come to his house making a mockery of Haiti’s judicial system (see: http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article13915#.UZRoKGDgIzY ).
Aristide attempted he same tactics with Judge Dabresil. On May 7, 2013 he tried to intimidate the judge and the judicial system of Haiti by dispatching 300 paid Lavalas chimeres (thugs) into the streets of Port-au=Prince to lead violent demonstrations (see: http://lematinhaiti.com/contenu.php?idtexte=35715&idtypetexte ). Aristide’s violence did not intimidate the judge who did not budge from his position.
Again in order to intimidate the judge, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party turned the summons into a political rally in front of the judge’s offices where hundreds turned out to protest. With courage, the judge did not cede to these political pressures and acts of intimidation and violence. Rather, Judge Dabresil interrogated Aristide for several hours. Again that day supporters of Aristide used violence. Journalist Henry Frantz Delice of Radio-Tele Ginen was assaulted by Aristide’s chimeres. They also attacked the offices of Radio-Tele Ginen. These acts of violence against the press were condemned by the National Association of Haitian Media (ANMH) led by Lilianne Pierre Paul. For more details see the following two links:
The majority of Haitians condemned Aristide’s violent attitude and his Fanmi Lavalas party toward Haiti’s judicial system. After these events many Haitians believe that Aristide has become the prime suspect behind the killers. The widow of Jean Dominique, Michele Montas, told Reuters last year that Aristide knows who killed her husband. In a previous interview she stated:
“ The Haitian police arrested Port-au-Prince former deputy mayor, Harold Severe, a member of President Aristide's cabinet, as well as Rouspide Petion, alias Douze for their alleged involvement in the murder of Jean Dominique. Harold Severe had been indicted on January 28, 2003 by instructing judge Bernard St Vil but his name was, at the last minute, taken out of the judge's final report.” (see: http://www.potomitan.info/vedrine/dominique.php )
The antidemocratic behavior of Aristide of May 2013 has also refreshed the memory of many Haitians. They recall that during the period 2000-2004 Jean Bertrand Aristide was considered by Reporters Without Borders www.rsf.org as one of the 38 presidents considered as predators of press freedom around the world. For more details on the repression of the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party against Haitian journalists and the Haitian press in general during that period check the following links:
During that Aristide era, Haiti was ranked 161 as one of the worst countries in relation to freedom of the press in comparison to today where Haiti was ranked 47 in the 2013 global report - the United States is ranked 46.
Repression and the killing of political opponents was so bad under Aristide that Haitian Senator Irvelt Chery wrote a letter to all Attorneys General of the country to ask them to trigger judicial actions against the perpetrators for those various crimes (see: http://www.haitian-truth.org/28-fevrier-2004-1013-neuf-ans-apres-la-demission-du-dictateur-jean-betrand-aristide-toujours-pas-de-justice-pour-les-victimes-de-la-repression-lavalas/ ).
Haitians hope that their judicial system will find and punish the killers who murdered not only Jean Dominique, but those that killed journalist Brignol Lindor, Jacques Roche and Georges Honorat. Judges will not back down in the face of threats by violent anarchists. This brave action by one judge signals hope for the Haitian people that Haiti could transition into a country that follows the rule of law over the rule of one man. Let’s hope that highly paid foreign consultants don’t undermine that hope.