[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
5532: Joanis Jackson arrest by INS/convicted of killing Antoine Izmery (fwd)
Florida Sun-Sentinel, Web-posted: 11:33 p.m. Nov. 16, 2000
INS arrests 14 immigrants for alleged human rights abuses
in their countries
</bold>By JODY A. BENJAMIN Sun-Sentinel
Stepping up efforts to root out human rights abusers,
immigration authorities on Thursday fanned out across South
Florida and arrested 14 foreign nationals accused of kidnapping,
torturing or murdering political enemies in their home countries.
The two-day sweep in an operation called "Home Run"
targeted 25 former military or paramilitary officers who had
applied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for asylum.
But subsequent immigration court hearings turned up evidence
they had engaged in torture, disqualifying them. In some cases,
they had lived in communities from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach
counties for years.
"These are people who were living here within their own ethnic
community, where they may have encountered some of their
victims," said Bill West, INS chief of special investigations. "That
constitutes a potential threat to those victims."
"We are aggressively targeting this population," said West. "We
intend to detain them until they can be removed from the country."
Eleven of the targeted group, most of whom come from Latin
America and the Caribbean, are still at large.
The arrests come as U.S.-based human rights groups are
increasing pressure on the government to arrest and prosecute
some of the estimated 7,000 former torturers thought to have
quietly taken up residence in this country.
"We are delighted to see that they have begun to take action,
but it is just a first step," said Richard Krieger, founder of the
Boynton Beach-based International Education Missions, a group
that collects information on torturers.
"We have an obligation to try foreign torturers living here and to
incarcerate them if they are found guilty," he said.
A West Palm Beach jury recently acquitted two former
Salvadoran generals of responsibility for the deaths of four
American church women. But others should be prosecuted here
under the law used in that case, the International Convention
Against Torture, Krieger said.
"This is big stuff," said Haitian radio host Andre Edner Joseph,
known on WLQY-1320 AM as "Yeye." He said South Florida
listeners have complained about torturers living with impunity in
the United States.
"We have been talking about people like that walking the streets
of Miami and New York like nothing happened," Joseph said. "We
have been asking when are they going to go after these people?"
Those arrested Thursday won't be prosecuted in this country,
because their alleged crimes took place before the United States
ratified the anti-torture convention in 1994, said INS district
counsel Dan Vara. Instead, INS will seek to deport them.
"What remains for us to do is to simply arrange for their
physical removal from the country," said Vara. For now they are
being held at the Krome Detention Center in southwest Miami-
Arrested were Simao Sebastiao, 31, of Miami; Rafael Alberto
Romero, 54, of Miami; Gilnor Castor, 40, of Lake Park; Buteau
Avril, 49, of Delray Beach; Jean Bruno Joseph, 41, of
Homestead; Windzor Edouard, 41, of Lake Worth; Guerlaine
Fleurvil Georges, 30, of Delray Beach; Augustin Pierre, 44, of
Miami; Michelet Charles, 31, of Miami; Erick Cazeau, 24, of Fort
Pierce; Maxo Provence, 30, of Boca Raton; Fanfan Baptiste, 26,
of Fort Lauderdale; Yolandus Yolande, 49; and Joanis Jackson, 42.
According to press reports, Jackson is a former member of the
Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti who in 1995
was convicted in absentia for the killing of Antoine Izmery, a
businessman and active supporter of then-President Jean
Bertrand Aristide. A Haitian court sentenced Jackson to life in
In Miami-Dade, one of those arrested was an Angolan who had
served in the Angolan military before switching allegiances to join
the UNITA rebel group. The man admitted to killing civilians in
both capacities, said West of INS.
In Broward and Palm Beach counties, West said, INS arrested
former members of the infamous TonTon Macoutes in Haiti, a
militia that supported the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship and
has been accused of killing thousands of civilians. "Baby Doc"
Duvalier was toppled during a popular uprising in 1986.
INS is continuing efforts to locate other torturers. Agents think
most of the remaining 11 sought in this week's action have already
fled the area, West said.
Among those who fled: a former military commander from
Honduras who testified that he took part in the slayings of 300
people during regional conflicts. INS declined to release the
"We believe several of them have actually left the area and
gone to other parts of the country," said West. "We're not going to
forget about them. We're going to continue to look for them."
<italic> Sun-Sentinel Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this
Jody A. Benjamin can be reached at jbenjamin@sun-
sentinel.com or 954-356-4530.