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28230: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti launches judicial corruption inquiry (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

     By Joseph Guyler Delva

     PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, April 10 (Reuters) - More than 20 Haitian
judges and prosecutors are under investigation for suspected bribery and
corruption, according to judicial authorities who created a new council on
Monday to sanction those involved.
     "Those cases are being carefully studied and appropriate sanctions
will be taken if necessary," Carlos Hercule, chief of staff for the justice
minister, told Reuters.
     Several of those targeted have been removed from office pending the
outcome of the investigation in the impoverished and turbulent Caribbean
     Justice Minister Henri Dorlean said administrative and judicial
proceedings had been launched against six other judges and prosecutors
accused of accepting money from those awaiting trial, in exchange for their
release from prison.
     "The magistrates should be fully aware that they too can be tried if
they deliberately commit fault," Dorlean told Reuters. The term
"magistrates" includes both judges and prosecutors in Haiti.
     Dorlean made the comments after installing a council of magistrates,
known as the Judiciary's Superior Council, to sanction members of the
judicial system found guilty of corruption and serious administrative
     Dorlean called the installation of the council "an important step
toward reforming the judicial system," which is widely considered corrupt,
lacking in credibility and subject to political influence.
     The head of the U.N. mission's human rights unit in Haiti accused
judicial officials and the U.S.-backed interim government last week of
illegally detaining most of the 4,000 people behind bars in Haiti.
     The U.N. official, Thierry Fagart, said most prisoners had not been
formally charged or tried and that many had been held in "preventive
detention" for longer terms than they would face if convicted of crimes.
     Critics say the un-elected interim government that has led Haiti for
two years installed the new council without consulting the administration
of President-elect Rene Preval, who is scheduled to take office on May 14.
     Preval won a February election, the first since former President
Jean-Bertrand Ariside was driven out during an armed revolt in February
2004. A new parliament is to be seated after an April 21 runoff election.