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Haiti22 September 2006

Rights group accuses gang leader of involvement in Jacques Roche murder

The National Human Rights Defence Network (RNDDH) has alleged that François “Bibi” Daniel, a former gang leader in the Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Solino, was involved in the murder of Jacques Roche, the Le Matin culture section editor who was kidnapped on 10 July 2005 and was found dead four days later.

Bibi and two other gang members went to the National Commission for Disarmament, Dismantling and Reintegration on 12 September to hand in firearms, demanding in exchange that the judicial authorities withdraw proceedings against them in a number of murder cases. Bibi did not however surrender all of his weapons, reports said.

13.07.06 - No sign of justice a year after journalist Jacques Roche was murdered

A year after Le Matin journalist Jacques Roche was kidnapped in Port-au-Prince on 10 July 2005 and was found dead four days later, Reporters Without Borders voiced anger and bitterness today that the investigation has ground to a halt and the suspects who were arrested have not been brought to trial.

“Roche’s death showed to what degree the militias in the pay of the former regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide were not disarmed after Aristide’s fall in February 2004,” the press freedom organisation said. “The trauma caused by this murder will never be overcome as long as it remains unpunished. And what is worse, one of the presumed killers was freed without explanation.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “At a time when Haiti is trying to return to the road of peace and democratic stability, one of the new government’s priorities should to provide resources to the judicial system.”

A book reviewer, Creole-language poet and editor of the Le Matin’s arts and culture pages, Roche was abducted as he was driving in the Nazon district of Port-au-Prince. His kidnappers initially threatened to kill him if they were not paid 250,000 dollars, but later agreed to reduce their ransom demand.

His body was found handcuffed to a chair on a street in the capital on 14 July 2005. He had been tortured and shot. His sudden murder while negotiations were still under way between the kidnappers and his family cast doubt on the assumption that he had been abducted just for ransom. Sources close to the case told Reporters Without Borders at the time that Roche had almost certainly been handed over to a different gang, one with political motives.

The judicial police detained Father Gérard Jean-Juste, Aristide’s “spiritual adviser,” on 22 July 2005, a day after he attended Roche’s funeral, triggering an uproar among all the mourners, who suspected him of being linked to Roche’s death. He was later freed on health grounds and allowed to travel to the United States for treatment. He is still there. Officially he still faces investigation by the Haitian judicial authorities in connection with both this case and a theft of firearms from the national palace.

Roger Etienne was arrested on 18 August 2005 on suspicion of being one of Roche’s kidnappers. Yolène Gilles of the National Human Rights Defence Network (RNDDH) has confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that he is still being held at the national penitentiary. Two other suspects, known simply as “Mentor” and “Edgard,” were arrested at the same time and placed in custody.

None of these men has appeared in court. Meanwhile, the investigating judge in charge of the case - who is also in charge of the case of Radio Haïti Inter director Jean Dominique, who was murdered in 2000 - is currently said to be “travelling.”

Finally Johnny Cicéron was arrested on 14 October 2005 on suspicion of involvement in Roche’s murder. He escaped and was recaptured on 4 May 2006. Then he was released on 22 May 2006 without any explanation. Seventeen other suspected gang leaders were released the same month on the official grounds of “lack of room in the prisons” or “incomplete case file.”

In this country
3 December - Haiti
Seven years after radio journalist’s murder, convicted killers still at large
13 May - Haiti
Finger pointed at US interposition force in the 2004 death of journalist Ricardo Ortega
11 April - Haiti
Responses from Sen. Rudolph Boulos and Harold Sévère to Reporters Without Borders release on Jean Dominique murder
25 January - Haiti
Victory over impunity “within reach” in Lindor murder after seven are convicted in absentia
13 December - Haiti
Two gang members get life for journalist’s murder, a third is acquitted

in the annual report
Haiti - Annual Report 2008
Haiti - Annual report 2007
Haiti - Annual report 2006

14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

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