Haiti Support Network (HSN)
1583 Albany Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210 (718) 421-0162
For Immediate Release:�Contact:
May 14, 2007�Ray Laforest, 646-352-1705
������Lauren Melodia, 212-614-6464
Haitian Community to Demonstrate at Sentencing of Former Haitian Death-Squad Leader Toto Constant at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn
On Tuesday, May 15, 2007 from 8 to 9 a.m., Haitians will picket outside the Supreme Court of New York at 320 Jay Street in Brooklyn to demand that the judge sentencing former death-squad leader Emmanuel “Toto” Constant for mortgage fraud apply the maximum penalty possible.
Emmanuel “Toto” Constant was a CIA agent and terrorist leader of the death-squad FRAPH during Haiti’s 1991-94 coup d’�tat, which claimed the lives of 5000. He fled from Haiti to the United States in December 1994 when a Haitian court issued a warrant for his arrest for murder and torture. From 1996 until his arrest by New York State authorities last summer, Constant enjoyed de facto political asylum and a comfortable lifestyle as a mortgage broker in Queens and Long Island, despite extradition requests from Haiti for his crimes against humanity.
On Tuesday, demonstrators will be calling on the judge to take into account Constant�s human rights record when sentencing him for grand larceny and fraud in a real estate scheme, for which crime he pled guilty to arrange a plea bargain for a maximum of three years. Normally his crime of lining up straw buyers for mortgage fraud brings a 25-year sentence.
“We are outraged that Constant has only been prosecuted in the U.S. for relatively minor crimes like mortgage fraud when he has carried out such terrible crimes and terror in Haiti as a death-squad leader,” said Ray Laforest of the Haiti Support Network, one of the groups calling the action. “It will be an even greater scandal if the judge reduces his sentence for the real-estate swindles he has taken part in.”
Other groups sponsoring the picket-line in front of the court-house are the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) in California, the International Action Center (IAC), and the Haitian community group KAKOLA.
In 2005, the CJA filed a lawsuit against Constant in New York on behalf of three women raped in Haiti by the FRAPH. In October 2006, Judge Sidney Stein of the Southern District of New York found Constant liable for torture, attempted extrajudicial killing and crimes against humanity.
In 2000, a court in Haiti convicted Constant in absentia for his role in the “Raboteau Massacre” in Gonaives in April 1994, in which dozens of people were killed by FRAPH thugs and Haitian soldiers.
“Emmanuel Constant deserves to serve a long sentence for what he did to the people of Haiti. If we can send him to jail for defrauding a bank, then so be it. It’s a start,” said Jennifer M. Green, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.