On the eve of the sixth anniversary of radio Haïti Inter director and political commentator Jean Dominique’s murder on 3 April 2000 in Port-au-Prince, Reporters Without Borders today added its voice to all the tributes being paid to Dominique and urged President-elect René Préval, who will be sworn in on 14 May, to give a solemn undertaking to reopen the case.
“The scandal about the way the Dominique murder case has been handled for the past six years is all the greater as his suspected killers have been identified but none of them has been brought to trial and three of the alleged hit-men are currently on the run,” the press freedom organisation said.
“This case highlights the scale of the police and judicial reforms that will have to be tackled by the government that emerges from the second round of the parliamentary elections on 21 April,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “Meanwhile, we call on Préval to pledge to reopen the case, especially as he was a personal friend of Dominique. The victory of justice over impunity is at stake.”
The investigation into Dominique’s murder concluded on 21 March 2003, three years after he and Haïti Inter caretaker Jean-Claude Louissaint were gunned down in the radio station’s courtyard . It resulted in six men being charged and arrested: Dymsley “Ti Lou” Milien, Jeudi “Guimy” Jean-Daniel, Philippe Markington, Ralph Léger, Freud Junior Demarattes and Ralph Joseph. The charges against the last three were dropped on 4 August 2003, after they appealed against the indictment.
Former Port-au-Prince deputy mayor Harold Sévère and Ostide “Douze” Pétion were arrested on 14 March 2004 as the suspected instigators of the murder. Annette Auguste, who was already being held in connection with other criminal activity, was also accused of involvement on 10 March 2005.
But none of these three has ever been interrogated. There has never been any attempt to verify presumed hit-man Ti Lou’s statement that he was paid 10,000 dollars to murder Dominique. And the death of two witnesses in suspicious circumstances has never been explained.
Ti Lou, Guimy and Markington managed to escape during a prison mutiny in February 2005. Markington fled to Argentina, from where he contacted Reporters Without Borders to insist on his innocence. During a visit to Port-au-Prince in September 2005, a Reporters Without Borders delegation was told by several sources close to the Dominique case that Ti Lou and Guimy were circulating with complete impunity in the Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Martissant, where they were running a gang.
After a previous Reporters Without Borders visit to Port-au-Prince, the supreme court ordered the case reopened on 29 June 2004. But it took nearly a year for a new investigating judge to be appointed, on 3 April 2005, exactly five years after the murder. The new judge has not had access to the files and has not been given the necessary resources, so absolutely no progress has been made with the reopened investigation.