Published On: Mon, Jan 20th, 2014

Former Haitian president may have ordered journalist’s killing

Jean-Bertrand-AristidePORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide could have ordered the killing of Haiti's most famous journalist, Jean Dominique, as an investigating judge indicted a suspect that would have acted in collusion with the Caribbean country's former leader.

The judge investigating Dominique’s murder in 2000, has indicted nine suspects, including one, Mirlande Libérus, who would have received orders from Aristide to plan the crime, witnesses say.

"(Former) President Aristide told me that Jean Dominique had to be silenced or our return to power would be compromised," an important witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, told HCNN on Friday.

"He (Aristide) told me to join Mirlande who was dealing with the Jean Dominique issue and I went to see her and she asked me for a vehicle and weapons to conduct the operation," the witness said.

Dominique was killed on April 3, 2000, and since then, about a dozen investigating judges succeeded one another on the case but have failed to go as far as the investigation could take them, sometimes for security reasons or lack of means to conduct the investigation.

In 2000, President René Préval was in power, but Aristide, who was preparing to regain power, remained the most powerful man in the country and influenced almost all important decisions that the government had to take.

Dominique was very critical of Aristide and his party, Lavalas, that he had accused of corruption and other wrongdoings. Aristide and his entourage feared a possible presidential candidacy by Dominique who was one of the most popular personalities in the country, particularly among the poor and peasants.

Veteran journalist and press freedom advocate, Guyler Delva, said the investigation had never before reached such an important phase.

"I am very encouraged by these developments and we are getting closer to the resolution of the crime," said Delva, the chairman of a committee tasked with overseeing cases of journalists killed in Haiti and the secretary-general of the press freedom watchdog group, SOS Journalistes.

"However, I do not understand that the judge could indict Mirlande Libérus who would have received the order and not Aristide who would have given the order," said Delva calling on the appeal court to fully assume its responsibility.

The nine indicted are Mirelande Libérus (as the intellectual author of the crime), Harold Severe, Annette Auguste, Franco Camille, Merité Milien, Dimsley Milien, Toussaint Mercidieu, Jeudi Jean Daniel and Markington Michel.

The three-member commission set up by the appeal court has still officially to issue the report submitted by Judge Dabrezil.

By Joe Colas

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