Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

The ruling of the investigating judge in the case of the alleged massacre at La Scierie is not yet ready

Jan 24, 2007
The ruling of the investigating judge in the case of the alleged massacre at La Scierie is not yet ready: the lawyer for the political prisoners alleges procrastination Gonaïves, January 24, 2007 (AHP)- The presiding judge of the appeals court of Gonaïves, Hugues St-Pierre, said Wednesday that the ruling by the investigating judge in the case of the alleged massacre at la Scierie will not be able to be published in January as expected, due to complications surrounding the case.Several senior officials and supporters of  Fanmi Lavalas such as former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, former Interior Minister  Jocelerme Privert and former Deputy Amanus Maette were arrested in the immediate aftermath of  the sudden departure of President  Aristide based on accusations made against them by organizations close to the former interim government.Several of those imprisoned, including Mr. Neptune and Mr. Privert have been released from prison due to the fact that no evidence of the existence of a massacre at La Scierie on February 11, 2003 has been presented and that instead this was a case of settling scores between rival political factions.

However, many other political prisoners incarcerated by the former de facto interim government remain in prison, despite the election of a constitutional government.

“We must examine the cases of 35 individuals whose prosecution has been ordered by the prosecutor of the civil court of St Marc”, declared Judge St-Pierre, adding that this work requires special time and attention in order to avoid the issuance of slapdash ruling.

One of the attorneys for the prisoners in the La Scierie case, Mario Joseph, again denounced what he termed the sluggish pace with which the case has been handled.

According to Mr. Joseph, the law of July 26, 1979 provides for a maximum time period of one month for the publication of rulings relating to cases on appeal and in which  individuals are being held in preventive detention.

Nothing can explain this latest delay and all of the procrastination, declared Mario Joseph.

Officials of local and international human rights organizations  who visited La Scierie stated that they did not find any evidence that a massacre had been committed.

The four or five bodies discovered in the area were found to have been the casualties of clashes between two rival bands,  RAMICOSM (of the anti-Aristide GNB campaign) and the pro-Lavalas Balewouze, which were said to have been locked in a struggle for control of the port of  Saint-Marc.

When asked to explain the absence of the alleged 40 corpses claimed by two organizations close to the anti-Aristide opposition, RAMICOSM and NCHR-Haiti/RNDDH, the answer given by NCHR/Haiti director Pierre Espérance was that they were all completely devoured by dogs.

Residents of Saint-Marc say that the names of many of the individuals appearing on the list of alleged victims are false.

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