PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Authorities have transferred a jailed Roman Catholic
priest and prominent supporter of Haiti’s ousted president from the National
Penitenciary to a more secluded prison often used for high-profile detainees,
his lawyer said Friday.
The Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, who is considering a run for the presidency, has
been sent to an annex of the National Penitenciary in Pacot, an upscale
neighborhood in the capital of Port-au-Prince, said attorney Mario Joseph.
Yvon Neptune, a former prime minister under Aristide who has been jailed for
more than a year without trial on charges of orchestrating political killings,
is also being held in Pacot.
Jean-Juste, who has been in jail since July without charge, is accused of being
behind the abduction and slaying of prominent Haitian journalist Jacques Roche.
Police detained him while he tried to attend Roche’s funeral, saying they were
responding to the “clamor” of protesters demanding his arrest.
Jean-Juste, who was in Miami when Roche was kidnapped, has denied the
Joseph said he did not know when Jean-Juste had been transferred. The Associated
Press interviewed him at the National Penitentiary on Tuesday when he said he
would run for president if he received approval from Aristide, who was ousted in
a 2004 armed uprising and is in exile in South Africa.
Jean-Juste also said he planned to start a hunger strike Thursday to demand the
release of other Aristide loyalists he described as political prisoners. Joseph
had not seen Jean-Juste since his transfer and it was unclear if he had gone
through with the strike.
Jean-Juste is one of hundreds of prisoners in Haiti who have been held without
sentence – or in some cases charges.
The U.S.-backed interim government has faced mounting international pressure to
release prominent prisoners, whose prolonged detention have fueled allegations
from Aristide loyalists of political persecution and focused attention on the
nation’s crumbling judicial system.