(Read the original report here.)
Reporters sans frontières
While welcoming the trial of Radio Echo 2000 reporter Brignol Lindor’s alleged murders on principle, Reporters Without Borders said today it feared the course of justice could be perverted because six of the 10 defendants have not been arrested and will therefore not be in court. The trial is due to open on 10 December in Petit-Gôave, the southern town where Lindor lived and worked, and where he was murdered six years ago.
“The Lindor murder was a national trauma and has waited too long to come to trial,” the press freedom organisation said. “The fact that the trial is taking place at all reflects a real political will to put an end to a scandalous level of impunity. Nonetheless, we think a case such as this needs to be handled better. The trial is good for justice in principle, but may not be good for the search for the truth.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “The six being tried in absentia will, by definition, be unable to answer for their actions before the court. While the four who are present could try to put the blame on the other six, although they could themselves end up taking the entire rap. Bearing in mind, too, that threats have been made against the prosecutor, who is also concerned about the outcome of the case, we think the conditions for a satisfactory trial have not been met.”
The 10 defendants are members of a local armed militia called Domi Nan Bwa (Sleep in the Bush) that was particularly active during Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s second presidential term. They were charged with this particularly barbaric murder in 2002 at the end of a judicial investigation that failed to clearly identify all those involved.
Of the four defendants who will be in court, three were arrested earlier this year after warrants were issued by Petit-Goâve state prosecutor Kébreau Zamor. They are Joubert Saint-Juste (arrested on 28 March and held at the national penitentiary in Port-au-Prince), Simon Cétoute (arrested on 24 October and held in Petit-Goâve) and Jean-Rémy Démosthène (arrested on 26 October and also held in Petit-Goâve).
The fourth man is Fritznel Doudoute, who was arrested on 28 December 2005 in nearby Miragôane and is now being held in Carrefour prison, outside Port-au-Prince.
The trial was originally scheduled to start on 3 December, the sixth anniversary of Lindor’s murder. When the postponement was announced, Zamor told Reporters Without Borders he was concerned about the infrastructural problems in Petit-Goâve and the difficulty of preparing for the trial in the time available. He also said he and his family had received death threats.