Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Friend of Haiti’s President Accused of Running a Kidnapping Ring

A friend of Haitian president, Michel Martelly, was recently accused of leading the Galil Gang, a kidnapping ring which has allegedly abducted 17 businessmen in the last six years for ransom. Woodley Ethéart, a former music promoter in Haiti, was indicted this week. However, the prosecutor overseeing the case opposed the investigation’s findings and recommended that Ethéart be released, despite a 30-page report outlining Ethéart’s role in the kidnapping. Human rights activists argue that this case highlights how prosecutors appear to represent the interests of the administration that appointed them, rather than abiding by the rule of law, which has been an ongoing theme since Martelly took office.

Ex-Promoter in Haiti Charged in Kidnapping Ring

Andre Paultre and Frances Robles, The New York Times

March 18, 2015

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A former music promoter with ties to the Haitian president, Michel Martelly, was indicted this week, accused of running a kidnapping ring said to be responsible in the killing of a police inspector and the abductions of 17 people.

But the surrogate prosecutor overseeing the case disagreed with the investigation’s findings and recommended dropping the charges, according to a charging document made public Wednesday.

Human rights activists in Haiti said the mixed message in the indictment of the promoter, Woodley Ethéart, underscored how prosecutors often represent the interests of the administration that appointed them — a particularly strong trend since Mr. Martelly took office in 2011.

He has been running the country without a Parliament, and several people in his circle have arrest records.

Mr. Ethéart was accused of leading the Galil Gang, which is accused of abducting businessmen for ransom. In a six-year period, the gang abducted 17 people, an investigating judge wrote.

The judge issued a 30-page report that said Mr. Ethéart had made several calls to the kidnappers. He also owns six cars and has seven bank accounts, despite a Ministry of Interior salary of just under $1,500 a month.

 

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