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|Posted February 25, 2007|
|USA: Haitian colonel ordered to pay $4.3 million for human rights abuses|
|For Immediate Release|
|February 23, 2007|
(Miami, Florida, February 23, 2007). A federal jury in Miami found Colonel Carl Dorélien, a former member of the Haitian Military's High Command, liable for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity suffered by plaintiffs Lexiuste Cajuste, Marie Jeanne Jean and her two young children. Colonel Dorélien was ordered to pay a total of $4.3 million to the plaintiffs in compensatory and punitive damages.
Lexiuste Cajuste was arbitrarily detained and severely tortured by Haitian military forces under Dorelien.s command because of his role as a union organizer and pro-democracy activist. Miraculously, he survived the beatings but, fourteen years after the ordeal, still suffers severe physical disabilities relating to his torture. Upon learning of the jury's verdict in his favor Cajuste stated, "Today I have finally found justice, but I am only one person amongst an entire population who suffered abuses. My wish is to see that all the people of Haiti receive justice." Cajuste went on to say, "Although today's judgment was rendered against Colonel Dorélien, I see this is as a judgment against the entire armed forces of Haiti under the military dictatorship. This is a wonderful day for justice for me and my family and for the Haitian people."
Marie Jeanne Jean lost her husband Michel Pierre during the massacre by the Haitian military against the citizens of the Raboteau neighborhood in the seaside city of Gonaives. Raboteau was known for being a stronghold of pro-democracy activism. The Raboteau massacre was one of the worst atrocities committed against the civilian population in Haiti while Dorélien was part of the High Command. She brought this suit on behalf of herself and her two minor children. "Today is a proud and happy day. This judgment is not just for me and my family, but for all of the many victims of the Raboteau Massacre. It is in their name that I am here in Miami today," said Marie Jean about the jury's verdict.
Colonel Dorélien was a member of the High Command of the Haitian Armed Forces during the military dictatorship in Haiti from 1991 to 1994. Dorélien's presence in the U.S. became widely known after he won $3.2 million in the Florida state lottery in 1997. Dorélien, along with many other members of the Haitian military, fled to the U.S. where they lived with impunity. This case represents the first time that a U.S. jury has held a former member of the Haitian military responsible for the widespread human rights abuses that were committed by the military against the civilian population.
Matt Eisenbrandt, CJA Legal Director and member of the trial team said, "It is an honor to represent Marie Jean and Lexiuste Cajuste, their courage is an inspiration. Justice has been served."
The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and Holland & Knight. CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization that works to end impunity by bringing to justice perpetrators of human rights abuses, especially those who live in or visit the United States. www.cja.org. Holland & Knight is among the world's 15 largest law firms, providing representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law. www.hklaw.com.
For more information and background on the case, please visit www.cja.org.
-- HREA - http://www.hrea.org
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.
|Posted February 20, 2007|
|Haiti U.N. Peacekeepers Arrest Gang Chief|
United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti have arrested a gang leader blamed for several murders as part of their ongoing operations to clean up the notoriously crime-ridden Cité Soleil quarter of Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Johnny Pierre Louis, also known as Ti Bazil, the presumed perpetrator of numerous murders and other bloody crimes, was picked up on Sunday night during a patrol in the Key Boyle residential of section Cité Soleil, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a statement.
His arrest represents one more step towards re-establishing security, peace and stability, conditions necessary for the development of Cité Soleil, it added, noting that he often acted under the orders of an ex-gang chief named Evens, whom MINUSTAH recently ousted from the Boston area of Cité Soleil.
Ti Bazil is believed to have been involved in the physical elimination of two families participating in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and to have forced local residents to take part in his criminal activities. He also instigated the digging of trenches in Cité Soleil to prevent MINUSTAH patrols from circulating.
MINUSTAH, set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, has launched several anti-gang operations in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a 700-troop-strong operation by the mission Brazilian contingent cleaned up Boston and transformed Evens former headquarters into a free medical clinic.
The mission has reported that armed criminal gangs are forcing children to take part in their operations, often under threat of killing them, and using them as human shields in confrontations with the police.
|Posted February 8, 2007|
|Haitian Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Taking an American Woman Hostage in Haiti in May 2006|
|To: NATIONAL EDITORS|
|Contact: Channing Phillips of the U.S. Department of Justice, +1-202-514-6933|
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Attly Hans, a Haitian man who previously pled guilty to hostage-taking, was sentenced to 14 years in prison today by the Honorable James Robertson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, announced U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor and Kenneth L. Wainstein Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's National Security Division. Hans, 21, of Haiti, pleaded guilty on July 26, 2006, to taking hostage in Haiti a woman who is a U.S. citizen in May 2006. The defendant was arrested in late May in Haiti and brought to the United States to face prosecution.
"The kidnapping and hostage-taking of American citizens overseas is a cowardly and dangerous crime that the Department of Justice will forever investigate and prosecute aggressively," stated U.S. Attorney Taylor. "Today's 14-year prison sentence imposed by the Court should make those who think about committing such frightening acts of terror upon innocent victims think twice before doing so."
"This case demonstrates our resolve to prosecute and punish those who take our people hostage overseas. It also highlights the importance of domestic and international law enforcement cooperation in the conduct of these investigations," said Assistant Attorney General Kennth L. Wainstein.
According to the government's evidence, on May 10, 2006, the American woman victim had been visiting relatives in Haiti and was traveling between the cities of Carrefour and Port au Prince, riding in a truck with a relative. The ordeal began for the woman when a car coming from the opposite direction pulled in front of them, blocking the road. Armed men alighted from the car and took the victim hostage, leaving her companion on the roadside. The hostage-takers threatened her and demanded ransom for her release. She was taken to a deserted area and pushed into a shallow grave to further intimidate her. Among other threats, the hostage-takers contacted relatives of the woman and told them that if they did not pay a large sum of money, they would kill the woman and dump her in a garbage pail.
The woman had friends and relatives in the city of Leogane, Haiti. They heard that she had been kidnapped and that her vehicle was carjacked. They were able to spot her vehicle on a street in Leogane and decided to keep an eye on it. Citizens from the area were watching the vehicle on May 15 when three men came to take possession of the vehicle. One of these men was defendant Attly Hans. The citizens of Leogane were able to detain the three men and notify the authorities, who reported to the scene and arrested defendant Hans.
The other hostage-takers still holding the woman apparently became apprehensive, and freed the woman later in the day on May 15, 2006. Over the five days that the woman was held, ransom of over $7,200 was paid to the hostage-takers.
In announcing today's sentence, U.S. Attorney Taylor and Assistant Attorney General Wainstein praised the hard work of the FBI's Extraterritorial Squad, in particular lead case agents Carlos Monero and Oscar Montoto, the Evidence Response Team, and the FBI Miami Special Weapons and Tactics Squad, all based in Miami, FBI Legal Attache and ALAT based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the Haitian National Police and the United Nations Civil Police, the Haitian Ministry of Justice, the ICE Office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti. Furthermore, they acknowledged the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne M. Hauch and Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
|Contact: Channing Phillips, (202) 514-6933|
|SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice|
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