MA Resident Sued After Escaping Haiti’s Justice System for Years

Three plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit against the former Mayor of Les Irois, Haiti in an attempt to bring justice against the man accused of murdering political opponents, burning 36 houses and using terror and violence during his term in office. Jean-Morose Viliena was elected Mayor in 2006, but fled to Massachusetts three years later after criminal investigators began looking into his behaviors. Since then, he has failed to show up to criminal trials and manipulated the already-weak justice system in Haiti, escaping prosecution for his crimes. This lawsuit was a step in the right direction to bring justice against him. However, on Friday, one of the three plaintiffs died in a sudden and unexpected manner, raising questions about the plaintiffs’ safety and Viliena’s lasting influence in Haiti. The Center for Justice and Accountability and IJDH are leading the efforts against Viliena, and they urge Haitian officials to thoroughly investigate the plaintiff’s cause of death.

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Has a murderer in Haiti been hiding in plain sight in Massachusetts?

Adrian Walker, The Boston Globe

March 27, 2017

Jean-Morose Viliena is a wanted man, under indictment for heinous crimes, including murder, in his native Haiti.

Improbably, he is also a resident of Malden, where he has a Social Security card and a license to drive buses. Probably few of his Massachusetts neighbors are aware that he is alleged to have participated in the murder and mutilation of constituents during a terrifying reign as mayor of Les Irois, a town of 22,306 in southwestern Haiti.

Viliena has thus far escaped trial, or justice in any form, but that could change. A federal lawsuit filed last week in Boston under the Torture Victim Protection Act seeks damages for his alleged offenses. It is spearheaded by two human rights organizations, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

Viliena was elected mayor of Les Irois in 2006. Not long after that, he began his alleged reign of terror against his political opponents, members of the Struggling People’s Party. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit – originally three, now two – are residents of Les Irois.

The suit alleges that Viliena directed a brutal campaign against opponents of his political organization. It says Viliena and his associates killed one man, Ecclesiaste Boniface, in an attack that originally targeted his brother. In addition, Viliena and his associates badly beat and maimed two men in a raid against a local radio station established by the opposition party. Finally, it says that he and his cronies burned down 36 houses in what the suit describes as “a rampage of arson.” That attack, in 2009, left hundreds of people homeless.

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