On the seventh anniversary of radio Haïti Inter owner and manager Jean Dominique’s murder on 3 April 2000 in Port-au-Prince, Reporters Without Borders notes with regret that the investigation that was relaunched two years ago has still not yielded any results and impunity continues to prevail in this case.
“It will clearly take time to put an end to violent crime and the rule of the gangs, one of which executed news photographer Jean-Rémy Badiau on 19 January, and to rebuild the Haitian judicial system,” the press freedom organisation said.
“But there really appeared to be a new start to the Dominique investigation in 2006 with the election of President René Préval, a friend of victim, and the appointment of Claudy Gassant - the original investigating magistrate in the case - as Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor,” Reporters Without Borders added. “So why have none of the alleged killers, whose identity and whereabout are known, been arrested? The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to render justice.”
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, 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.