[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#4861: Renewed Outcry on Haitian Fugitive in Queens (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Renewed Outcry on Haitian Fugitive in Queens 

 Haitian-American leaders, outraged by the increasingly visible presence
in Queens of a  man accused of killing thousands in Haiti, are renewing
a call to send the man back there for trial. For more than five years, 
Emmanuel Constant, 43, the leader of a Haitian paramilitary group in 
the early 1990's, has lived  intermittently with an aunt on a  quiet
street in southeast Queens since 1994, popping up at restaurants, coffee
shops and nightclubs in  Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island.  His
presence in the city has always angered Haitian exiles and  human rights
advocates who have tried to persuade the United  States government to
extradite him on murder charges.  But lately, Mr. Constant, who is known
as Toto, has been more  visible than ever. He has taken a job as a real
estate broker, selling  houses in Cambria Heights, the heart of the
Haitian-American neighborhood in Queens. He has been seen greeting
friends with a  hug and taking cigarette breaks on Linden Boulevard. And
last  week, after watching a discussion on public access television
about a rally against him planned for today, he called the station and
asked to be interviewed.    "He's gotten progressively bolder," said Ray
Laforest, a labor organizer and leader of the Haiti Support Network, an
advocacy group. "He's enjoying the good life, and his victims have
memories they can never forget."  A few months ago, Mr. Laforest and
other Haitian-American leaders got wind of Mr. Constant's   employment
at Rigaud Realty, a  small agency on Linden Boulevard near 221st Street.
He has been  seen there regularly, and was spotted as recently as last
week.  Seeing one of the most wanted men in Haiti coming and going as 
if he were trouble-free has been difficult for some."In the eyes of the
community, a criminal like him shouldn't be  around the Haitian
community," said Jean Etienne, 57, an Haitian immigrant who says he has
often seen Mr. Constant.  Patrick Rigaud, the owner of the realty
business, declined to discuss  Mr. Constant's employment there, except
to say: "He has a real  estate license. He used to work here." According
to the state's licensing division, Mr. Constant was licensed as a real
estate broker two years ago and is listed as  employed by Rigaud Realty.
His license is due to expire soon, officials said. Human rights
advocates and Haitian-American leaders organized a  rally and march for
today outside Rigaud Realty and the house in  nearby Laurelton where Mr.
Constant is believed to live.In Haiti, Mr. Constant emerged in 1993 as
the head of a right-wing paramilitary group, the Front for the
Advancement and Progress of  Haiti, which has been accused of torturing
and killing thousands of  supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had
been ousted in a coup. Mr. Constant eluded Haitian prosecutors and used
a valid tourist visa to flee to the United States. The Haitian
government, which has repeatedly called for Mr. Constant's extradition,
is now moving to prosecute officers who led the coup. Amid the outcry
over his presence in Queens, Mr. Constant was arrested in 1995 by the
Immigration and Naturalization Service at his  aunt's house and detained
for a year. A deportation order was issued while he was in jail, but he
was abruptly released in 1996 and has been allowed to stay in the
country on the condition that he report regularly to the I.N.S.  Federal
officials said at the time of Mr. Constant's release that his return to
Haiti would further destabilize the government there, and they have
since argued that the Haitian justice system is not equipped to give him
a fair trial. But many say they suspect that Mr. Constant, who had been
a paid informer for the C.I.A. in Haiti,struck a deal with the federal
government, winning his release in exchange for his silence about the
C.I.A. Ron Daniels, the executive director of the Center for
Constitutional  Rights, a nonprofit legal group, asked why Mr. Constant
was still freely walking the streets. "It seems to indicate that this is
a trial balloon to see if he can resume  a normal life," he said. The
constitutional rights group wrote to Attorney General Janet  Reno on
Aug. 4 urging the government to deport Mr. Constant. Immigration
officials, citing privacy laws, would not comment yesterday on Mr.
Constant's release or on the status of his case.  Justice Department
officials also would not comment on Mr. Constant yesterday. Mr. Constant
could not be reached for an interview. But Jean Rameau, the producer of
the public access television program, called  "Haiti Diaspora," said Mr.
Constant called him last Friday after the segment related to today's
rally. Mr. Rameau, who said he has not decided whether to arrange an 
interview, said he was stunned by the call. Mr. Constant "said he 
wanted me to moderate a debate with his critics," he said.