Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Former Haitian Mayor found guilty of violent crimes with help of BAI

After a mayor and his associates murdered the brother of a human rights worker in Les Irois, Haiti in 2007, justice has finally been served. The mayor, Jean Morose Viliena, and other defendants have been found guilty of violent crimes and have been sentenced to seven years in prison. BAI has been supporting victims in the case since 2012.

Justice has been upheld in Haiti as Court finds former Mayor guilty of violent crimes

Sigrid Rausing Trust

28 July 2015

21st July 2015: After 8 years of fighting for justice, the Court in Haiti has found former Mayor of the small town of Les Irois, Jean Morose Viliena, guilty of violent crimes. In 2007, he and several associates broke into the Boniface family home where they murdered Eccliasiaste Boniface because his brother David, a human rights worker, had helped a women file a complaint against the Mayor for harassment. They were also responsible for sending death threats, burning down houses, beating and shooting people.

The Mayor had connections in the political and justice system of Haiti and therefore the case has come up against repeated obstacles. Bureau Des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), partner of SRT grantee Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), began supporting victims in 2012. After a long and difficult process, a trial was set for April 2015 but was postponed after BAI announced there would be international legal observers present at the trial. After more delays the trial finally started in early July and resulted in the judge sentencing the defendants to 7 years in jail. Viliena has not yet been arrested but police have instructions to jail him as soon as he is found.

This case will bring peace of mind to many courageous people and their families, many of whom were threatened and forced to flee their communities and hide. It also establishes a precedent that political violence can be prosecuted despite the perpetrators’ power and connections. This is of particular importance with Haiti currently preparing to run elections for a number of Senate seats.

Following the Court’s decision, our grantee partners spoke with David Boniface by phone. He said “I thank all of you for your support and hard work throughout this process. I congratulate you on a job well done. It is the first time that I have seen something like this happen, from the beginning to the end, we worked hard and we won. Thank you for keeping me alive”.

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