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Ex-Haiti president's men accused of murder

Judge's report into 2000 death of radio journalist says Aristide wanted him silenced, but stops short of indictment.

Last updated: 18 Jan 2014 11:31
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The judge in charge of the investigation did not indict Jean-Bertrand Aristide [AP]

Several close associates of the former Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have been accused of the murder of journalist Jean Dominique, one of the country's most notorious political assassinations.

Although the judge's investigation, released on Friday, said Aristide ordered Dominque's silence, the ex-president was not indicted.

The judge instead accused nine people of having a hand in the death of Dominique and a security guard in an attack at the offices of Radio Haiti Inter in Port-au-Prince in 2000.

A former senator, Mirlande Liberus from Aristide's political party, was indicted as the organiser of the double murder, according to a summary of the judge's report made public by an Appeals Court panel on Friday.

Liberus was given the mission by Aristide to silence the popular journalist, the report said, citing witnesses who gave evidence before Judge Yvikel Dabresil. The judge did not indict Aristide as part of the conspiracy.

"The investigation is finished. We have officially submitted our report," said Judge Yvikel Dabresil.

"Former president Aristide is not indicted," he added, but confirmed that at least nine people, including former senator Liberus and Harold Severe, the former deputy mayor of Port-au-Prince.

The judge's full report is due to be published in the coming weeks, after it has been formally accepted by the Appeals Court, according to Guyler Delva, who heads a local committee of investigating the cases of murdered journalists. 

No arrests

None of the accused has so far been arrested and some are believed to be living abroad, including Liberus, who local media reports say resides in the United States.

Due to its political sensitivity the case has taken years to prosecute and slipped through the hands of numerous judges, one who fled the country in fear.

In all seven judges worked on the case over the span of almost 14 years. If and when a trial will be held remains unclear as the case could still be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Dominique was born into Haiti's light-skinned mulatto elite, but broke ranks to become a champion of the country's poor peasants.

As a journalist, he would address his audience in native Creole, rather than French, and denounce abuses by those in power.

His scathing on-air editorials made him an enemy of Haiti's dictators, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, "Baby Doc".

Dominique later turned his tongue against Aristide's political party, Lavalas, accusing it of corruption and abuse of power.

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Source:
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