The decision by Judge Cluny Pierre Jules to bring the Neptune case to a criminal trial without a jury is a flagrant violation of the Constitution of 1987, according to the head of MINUSTAH’s human rights section
Port-au-Prince, October 14, 2005 -(AHP)- Thierry Fagart, director of the human rights section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) declared Friday that the decision by investigating Judge Cluny Pierre Jules to send the case against Yvon Neptune to criminal trial without a jury is a flagrant violation of the Haitian Constitution of 1987.
Judge Cluny Pierre Jules, assigned to investigate the case of the alleged massacre at La Scierie (Saint-Marc), recently issued an order to indict former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and some 30 other individuals accused of involvement in the case.
Thierry Fagart pointed out at a news conference that the Haitian Constitution calls for suspects to be tried in the criminal court sessions with a jury in cases of alleged “blood crimes” (the term “blood crimes” is not defined in the Constitution but is often construed as crimes resulting in death).
If this decision stands, said the MINUSTAH human rights official, it would mean that Mr. Neptune and all the other accused will appear in Saint-Marc and will be tried by a single judge who will not only rule on the innocence or guilt of the accused but will also decide the sentence that would be imposed if any defendants are found guilty.
It is evident, said Mr. Fagart, that if a trial is held in Saint-Marc, there will be all sorts of pressures exerted, particularly by sectors accusing Mr. Neptune.
Thierry Fagart said he hopes that the decision of Judge Cluny Pierre Jules will be reversed on appeal or by the Court of Cassation.
The UN official asked the authorities to do all they can to correct the situation because, he said, Haiti is experiencing a catastrophic situation at the approach of the elections scheduled for the end of this year.
“It is important that everyone get a grip of the situation to put an end to the human rights violations, the impunity, the inequalities that plague the country”, said Thierry Fagart.
Two organizations reputed to be close to the former opposition to the Neptune government, NCHRH/Haiti and Ramicosm were the first to blame the former prime minister for the alleged massacre said to have been perpetrated on February 11, 2004.
NCHR/Haiti director Pierre Espérance indicated at the time that 50 people were killed.
He sought to explain the absence of corpses by suggesting that all the bodies had been devoured by dogs.
Several sectors and personalities such as former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti James B. Foley found it scandalous that the authorities were keeping Mr. Neptune in prison while releasing the number two leader of the FRAPH paramilitary organization who was found guilty of crimes, he said.
Louis Jodel Chamblain was sentenced in absentia for abuses committed during the period of the coup d’état that continued from 1991- 1994.
Mr. Chamblain returned to Haiti in January 2004 to play an active role in the armed movement against President Aristide and turned himself in as a prisoner in April 2004 after he met with the country’s most senior judicial officials in office at that time.
AHP October 14, 2005 11:55 AM