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#3165: HAITI: Well-Known Journalist Gunned Down At Radio Station (fwd)
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Copyright 2000 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.
*** 05-Apr-0* ***
Title: HAITI: Well-Known Journalist Gunned Down At Radio Station
By Chris Chapman
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Apr 5 (IPS/Haitian Times) -- Haitians Wednesday
were still reacting with shock and sadness to the murder of well-
known journalist Jean Leopold Dominique, who was gunned down as he
arrived at work early Monday morning.
Dominique, manager of Radio Haiti Inter and the station's morning
news anchor, was killed by a lone gunman. The station's care-taker
Jean-Claude Louissaint also died in the incident.
According to Marie Raphaelle Pierre, a journalist at Radio Haiti
Inter, the killer presented himself at the gate of the station at
around 6 am on Monday, and asked Louissaint to speak to Dominique.
"The man said he didn't know Dominique, but that he needed to
speak to him. He asked the caretaker to point Dominique out to
him," said Pierre.
When the unsuspecting caretaker duly pointed Dominique out, the
man approached the station manager, who was just getting out of
his car, and fired several shots at him. The gunman then returned
to the gate, shot the caretaker and left, explained Pierre.
Speculation is rife about the motive behind the killing.
"The murder of Jean Dominique can only be a political one," said
Jean-Claude Bajeux, former culture minister and a member of
Dominique's wife's family. He, however, did not specify what
particular sector might be responsible.
Ben Dupuy, leader of the National Popular Party, attributed the
killing to former tonton macoutes (secret police under the
dictatorship) who have found a new vocation as common criminals.
Gerard Pierre Charles, leader of the Organisation for the People
in Struggle, said that Dominique's professionalism led him to
on a wide range of taboo subjects. "He surely upset a lot of
people," said Pierre Charles. "But it is too early to point the
finger at a particular sector."
"We have no idea what the motive might be," said Pierre. "But
anyone who listens to Radio Haiti Inter knows that Dominique was
always hostile towards a whole range of things which were being
done which prevented democracy progressing in this country."
Dominique was born in Port-au-Prince to a well-to-do family and
attended private schools in Haiti and France, studying agronomy.
In the early 1960s, when virtually all of Haiti's news media
were owned and used as propaganda outlets by the government,
Dominique founded Radio Haiti Inter as a voice of the people. It
was the first outlet to broadcast in Creole, the language of most
He was a fearless opponent of the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime,
along with dozens of other journalists and opposition activists,
was forced into exile during a crackdown on dissenters in November
He returned to the country after Duvalier was ousted in 1986,
only to flee again at the beginning of the military regime of
Cedras in 1991.
Wilfrid Present, state prosecutor at the Port-au-Prince civil
court, said on local radio that the prosecutor's office did not as
yet have any reliable information on the identity of Dominique's
Justice Minister Camille Leblanc, who described Dominique as "a
central pillar in the struggle for democracy," announced that the
judiciary would do all in its power to arrest those responsible.
Haiti's recent history has seen numerous assassinations of major
personalities -- Father Ti Jean, Guy Malary, Antoine Izmery,
Senator Yvon Toussaint, to name but a few -- many of whom were
known as fighters against oppression and injustice. Their
have never been brought to justice.
Asked by a journalist about this long list of inconclusive
investigations, Justice Minister Leblanc sought to defend the
judiciary's record: "When you are leading an investigation,
sometimes it can take a long time. But there are many
investigations which have reached a conclusion, and we will make
sure that this one reaches a conclusion as well."
The stature and popularity of Jean Dominique was evidenced by
the flood of well-wishers, including many prominent figures who
rushed to the Hospital of the Haitian Community, where he was
transported after the attack.
"President Rene Preval, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis along with almost the entire
cabinet, Police Chief Pierre Denize, the Human Rights Ombudsman
Louis Roy, they all came to pay their respects to the family of
deceased," said Jean Adrien, the hospital's director. The
officials, however, issued no statements.
Friends, family and colleagues have been paying moving tribute
both to Dominique's professionalism and his attentiveness, since
"When I started working here, I did not have any journalistic
experience," explains Pierre. "It was Jean who said, every time I
had just presented the news, 'let's listen to the tape and analyse
it together.' He always gave me advice, he was the greatest
teacher I ever had in my life."
"I have been hearing his voice since I was a child, I always
liked to hear his voice," said Marie Therese, a market trader. "I
don't understand why this happened -- someone who is fighting for
progress in this country, he's the one they kill."
Jean Dominique died at the age of 69 and leaves behind his wife,
Michele Montas, also a journalist at Radio Haiti Inter, and
Radio Haiti Inter, which had just begun its 6 am news program
when the murder took place, ceased transmitting and has remained
silent since, although Pierre insists that the station will be
operating again very soon.
"This will not stop us working, neither will it alter the
station's line -- on the contrary, it should give us strength to
go on. The station must speak for all those who cannot speak, just
like Jean Dominique always did," he said. (END/IPS/IP/cc/da/00)
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