Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the arrest of Joubert St-Just, one of the alleged killers of Radio Echo 2000 presenter Brignol Lindor, who was hacked to death with machetes on 3 December 2001 in the southern town of Petit-Goâve. St-Just was arrested on 30 March by residents in the nearby town of Miragoâne.
"This arrest of one of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s "chimčres" or henchmen testifies to the Haitian people’s desire to put an end to terror, injustice and impunity, and it is now up to the government and judicial authorities to translate this desire into action," the press freedom organization said.
Reporters Without Borders added: "Establishing the rule of law in Haiti means rendering justice to murdered journalists and guaranteeing and respecting press freedom. St-Just’s arrest should lead to a resumption of the judicial investigation into Lindor’s murder, which until now has been blocked in an irregular fashion."
A member of Domi Nan Bwa, a local grass-roots organization linked to Fanmi Lavalas (Aristide’s party), St-Just was handed over to the police in Petit-Goâve and placed in a cell following his arrest by Miragoâne residents.
"He was going around in broad daylight, making no attempt to hide," Reporters Without Borders was told by Lindor’s brother, Moréno Lindor, who received confirmation of the news from a contact in Petit-Goâve. He added: "Brignol’s murders acted in broad daylight and always claimed responsibility for the murder without ever being questioned or detained."
A staff member of the Agence Haďtienne de Presse (AHP), a Haitian news agency, told Reporters Without Borders: "Joubert St-Just may have been detained for another reason. His name has not previously been mentioned in connection with this case." Nonetheless, this is the first time that one of Lindor’s presumed killers has been arrested.
The investigation resulted in September 2002 in the indictment of 10 Domi Nan Bwa members but the arrest warrants were never executed. No charge was ever brought against the Petit-Goâve deputy mayor who had called publicly for Lindor to be killed.
After an appeal court denied the Lindor family plaintiff status, the family referred their request to the supreme court, which - since Spring 2003 - has failed to issue a ruling. As a result, judicial procedures are paralysed despite two requests by Reporters Without Borders, one during a visit to Haiti in June 2004 and the other in a 3 November letter which received no reply.
"We welcome this arrest but we remain cautious about what may result from it," Moréno Lindor commented.