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28114: Concannon: Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alert (fwd)

From: Brian <brian@ijdh.org>

March 14, 2006

Half-Hour for Haiti: Alleged Killers Go Free While Political Prisoners
Remain in Jail

On March 9, at least six police officers accused of participating in the the
Grande Ravine <http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_grande_ravine.htm>
Football Massacre were released on their personal recognizance (See
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_recent_news_3-14-06b.htm> Police
Accused of Grande Ravine Massacre Released, Haitian Press Agency). The
Football Massacre is one of the most brutal and notorious atrocities yet
under the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH): on August 20, police and
members of a paramilitary group called the Ti Lame Manchet- the Little
Machete Army- attacked the crowd at a football (soccer) game, killing at
least ten people, wounding dozens more.

Haiti?s police initially denied the incident, but the internal affairs
department did eventually conduct an investigation and issue a report
<http://www.tnh.ht/actua/politique/rapportenque.htm>  implicating 20
officers in the massacre.  Relatives of massacre victims filed criminal
complaints against both police and paramilitaries. Seven officers were
placed under arrest, but not any Little Machete Army members. The case was
given to Investigating Magistrate Jean Pérès Paul.

Judge Paul is best known as the judge overseeing the persecution of
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_jean_juste.htm>  political prisoner
Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. Although Fr. Jean-Juste was an excellent candidate
for pre-trial release, had no evidence against him, and suffered from
leukemia, Judge Paul refused to allow even his provisional release for
medical treatment (Fr. Jean-Juste was eventually granted provisional release
by the prosecutor).

The police officers were released under Haiti?s main levée (personal
recognizance) procedures. Although they are technically required to remain
available to the justice system, it would be easy for them to hide in Haiti
or flee abroad. It is unusual in Haiti to grant pre-trial release to
defendants held on such serious charges, especially where, as here, the
judge has not even questioned all of the witnesses. More importantly, the
victims, who have reported continuing harassment by Little Machete Army
members, will have reason to fear reprisals from some of the officers. This
fear was magnified when the supporters of the highest ranking officer,
Division Commander Carlo Lochard, celebrated his release
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_recent_news_3-14-06b.htm> by firing
shots in the air at his house near Grande Ravine.

Two weeks ago we wrote to the new Port-au-Prince Commissaire du Gouvernement

(prosecutor), Me. Leny Fredd?Herck, to
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_halfhourforhaiti_2-28-06.htm>  urge
him to free the political prisoners in his jurisdiction. There has not been
any progress on that front (see
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_recent_news_3-14-06d.htm> Hundreds
call for release of political prisoners) and the prosecutor?s office should
have more forcefully opposed the liberation of the Grande ravine Massacre

This Week?s Action:  Write Me. Leny to protest the liberation of the Grande
ravine defendants and insist on freedom for the political prisoners. Sample
letters in English and French are below, feel free to modify them. You can
send the letters by regular mail or email them to avokahaiti@aol.com, and we
will ensure that they are printed and delivered.  Also,  HURAH
<http://www.hurah.revolt.org>  in the U.S. and AUMOHD in Haiti have issued
another good
<http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_recent_news_3-14-06c.htm> Action Alert
on this case targeting other IGH officials.


Me. Leny Fredd?Herck

Commissaire du Gouvernement

Ministère de la Justice

18 Avenue Charles Sumner

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Dear Me. Leny:

I am writing to protest the release of several people accused in the August
20, 2005 Grande Ravine Football Massacre, while dozens of political
prisoners remain in jail despite a complete absence of evidence against

As you know, on Thursday, March 9, several police officers arrested in
connection with the Football Massacre were released, through the main levée
procedure. The Judicial Police have presented a file containing evidence
against these officers.  At least one of the officers, Carlo Lochard, was
personally named in the complaint filed by the massacre victims.

The release of the police officers is premature, and it poses a risk of
flight. Judge Jean Pérès Paul has not even completed his initial
investigation in the case: he heard the testimony of some of the victims,
but has yet to question all the victims, or many other witnesses. There is
little guarantee that the officers in question- accused of a very serious
violation of the public?s trust- will return to court if required.

Even more important, the liberation of the police officers presents a risk
to the massacre victims. As you know, the members of the Ti Lame Manchet
involved in the killings were never arrested, and according to victims, have
continued to threaten people in Grande Ravine. Releasing the police officers
is a signal that the justice system will not pursue this case, which may
embolden the attackers.

            While the men accused of the Football Massacre were released
despite strong evidence of serious crimes, dozens of political prisoners
remain in jail, with absolutely no evidence against them. Many of these have
been in prison for two years or more, and the courts have either rejected or
ignored their requests for main levée.

            I urge you to fulfill your responsibilities as the people?s
advocate by making every effort to ensure a zealous prosecution of those
responsible for the Football Massacre, and of other deadly attacks against
innocent civilians.  I also urge you to ensure that the political prisoners
are immediately either released, or brought to trial.


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Cher Me. Leny,

Je vous écris pour protester contre la mise en liberté de plusieurs
personnes accusées du massacre de Grande Ravine, perpétré le 20 août 2005,
alors que des douzaines de prisonniers politiques demeurent en prison malgré
l?absence de preuves contre eux.

Comme vous le savez, le jeudi 9 mars dernier, plusieurs agents de police
arrêtés suite au massacre de Grande Ravine ont été relâchés via la procédure
de main levée. Pourtant, la Police Judiciaire avait déposé un dossier
cumulant les preuves contre ces agents. Au moins un des agents, Carlo
Lochard, a été personnellement nommé dans la plainte logée par les victimes
du massacre.

La mise en liberté de ces agents de police est prématurée et entraîne le
risque de leur fuite. En effet, le juge Jean Pérès Paul n?a pas encore
terminé son enquête préliminaire : il a reçu le témoignage de certaines
victimes, mais n?a pas encore interrogé toutes les victimes ni plusieurs
autres témoins. Il est loin d?être certain que les agents en question,
accusés d?une sérieuse violation de la confiance publique, reviendront se
présenter en cour s?ils sont demandés.

Encore plus important, la mise en liberté des agents de police représente un
risque pour les victimes du massacre. Comme vous le savez, les membres du Ti
Lame Manchet impliqués dans le massacre n?ont pas été arrêtés et, selon les
victimes, continuent à menacer les gens à Grande Ravine. La libération des
agents représente un signal comme quoi le système judiciaire ne poursuivra
pas cette affaire, ce qui risque d?encourager les agresseurs dans leurs

Alors que les accusés du massacre de Grande Ravine ont été relâchés malgré
les sérieuses preuves de leurs crimes, des douzaines de prisonniers
politiques demeurent en prison en l?absence de toute preuve contre eux.
Plusieurs d?entre eux sont emprisonnés depuis deux ans ou plus, et les cours
ont soit rejeté ou ignoré leurs demandes de main levée.

Je vous enjoins de remplir vos responsabilités en tant qu?avocat de la
population, en déployant tous les efforts requis pour que les responsables
du massacre de Grande Ravine et d?autres attaques mortelles contre la
population civile soient dûment poursuivis en justice. Je vous enjoins
également de faire en sorte que les prisonniers politiques soient de façon
immédiate soit libérés, soit présentés devant un tribunal.

Veuillez agréer l?expression de mes sentiments les meilleurs,


For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute
for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see
www.ijdh.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week,
send an email to info@ijdh.org.

Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.

Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

PO Box 745

Joseph, OR 97846




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