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7348: Report on Jean Dominique's murder (part two) (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Who killed Dominique?
In plot-ridden Haiti, everybody points the finger at everyone for
the Dominique murder. Threatened all his life, Dominique had no specific
warnings on the days prior to his murder.
To begin the investigation, Montas gave the prosecution a list of
potential enemies who could have had Dominique murdered. They included
businessmen he had accused of alleged corruption in his daily editorials,
politicians and former Duvalier supporters.
Initially, Lavalas strongly pushed forth the theory Dominique could
have been killed by former Duvalier followers. One name that surfaced was
that of Leopold Berlanger, an opposition figure and owner of Vision 2000, a
radio station that has also been attacked by Lavalas. Last year, Berlanger
was coordinator of the Council of National Observers, a body overseeing the
May legislative elections. Dominique was openly critical of Berlanger in
one of his last editorials, charging him with being part of a coalition
"engaged in the destruction of Lavalas." Berlanger has cooperated with the
investigation and is no longer a top suspect, according to sources with
knowledge about the investigation.
Instead, Haitian and foreign observers and investigators in the
case have looked for clues in a radio editorial Dominique delivered on Oct.
19, 1999, six months before his death. The editorial was a direct attack
against Dany Toussaint, who was not a senator at the time, but was rumored
to be interested in becoming chief of police for a second time. Toussaint
served as the interim police chief in the first Aristide government, after
the military was disbanded and a new police force was being formed. At the
time Dominique was said to be preparing a series of dossiers on the corrupt
practices and drug trafficking records of several Lavalas officials,
including Toussaint, according to several accounts. Montas, however,
insists there were no dossiers. "Jean just accused people in his daily
commentaries," she said.
The October editorial was delivered during one of Haiti's most
delicate periods last year. Three months earlier, the U.S. had ended a
police training program. Several police officials favored by US trainers,
and known not to have close ties to Lavalas, had been forced to resign.
The most influential was Robert Manuel, the state secretary for public
security, who fled to exile as Lavalas officials, including Toussaint,
built a cacophonous campaign against him. "First the graffiti appeared,
and he knew he had to get out," said a police source. The editorial was
given days after the funeral of Jean Lamy, a reportedly honest army officer
and advisor to the national police, who was scheduled to take over Manuel's
post. Dominique decided to write the editorial because Toussaint accused
Manuel of the murder, and Dominique understood there was a power struggle
inside the police force, with Toussaint pulling to take over key police
The independence of the police has been hailed as one of the
underpinnings of the new Haiti. All throughout Haiti's history the police
and the army were used for the capricious whims of whom ever was in power.
The new police were supposed to be above politics, but some Lavalas
officials were never happy with the US training, according to foreign
observers. Dominique was suspicious of U.S. influence but supported the
idea of an independent police force, and attacked Toussaint for attempting
to carry out his power play. "It is bad strategy," warned Dominique in the
editorial. But then he said what many have interpreted as a sign that he
knew Toussaint was a tough opponent. "If Toussaint comes after me, I will
denounce him publicly and again go into exile with my wife and children."
Toussaint is not the only suspect, and investigators believe the
murder was planned by several influential individuals. The judge is still
obtaining preliminary testimony from suspects and witnesses believed to
have useful information on the case. Some of the individuals who have been
questioned by the investigating judge include Jean Claude Nord and Gerard
Georges, the two lawyers who threatened Dominique a few days before his
murder in a program aired on Radio Liberte, a New York radio station run by
former Duvalier allies; Senator Dany Toussaint, who has responded to only
one of three subpoenas, and whose lawyer is Jean Claude Nord; Senator Jean
Claude Delice, a Lavalas member and close associate of Toussaint, whose car
was seen near the radio station in the early morning when the murder
occurred; members of Toussaint's security force; and two former military
officers, Richard "Cha Cha" Salomon and Jacques Aurélus, both close allies
Six people are in jail suspected of being potential triggermen or
accessories to the crime. They have connections to local criminal gangs
operating in Port-au-Prince, according to several sources close to the
The murder was apparently planned during a series of meetings. At
one of the meetings, the intellectual authors met with the head of a
prominent criminal syndicate. Authorities are very interested in a street
thug known as Ronald Cadaver.
Cadaver is a former member of Aristide's security detail, who
allegedly runs a protection racket in downtown Port-au-Prince. Tall, dark
and in his 30s, Cadaver is said to be a boss to several gangs with links to
drug traffickers, car thieves and other criminal rings, however, his job is
merely that of an enforcer.
Information on Cadaver's activities link him to gangs operating in
the seaport of Port-au-Prince, which is located less than a mile from the
ruins of the St. Jean Bosco church, Aristide's former parish. The
territory includes the port where boats traveling between Miami and
Port-au-Prince dock, and a dusty large central market where vendors
congregate to purchase piles of rumpled used clothing they sell around the
According to sources who follow the investigation, the killers
arrived at the radio station in three cars. Two parked near the station's
entrance, a third down the street. The first informant to come forward
said a white Cherokee and a red Nissan Pathfinder, were the two vehicles
used as getaway cars. Extremely expensive in Haiti, one of the vehicles
was a rental, investigators said.
Two of the suspected killers are brothers who belong to the
notorious Road Nine Gang, which is known to Haitian and international
sources as having a specialty in for-hire assassinations. It normally
operates downtown, collecting extortion money from merchants, according to
investigators. One suspect goes by the name of "Tilou," although his real
name is Jamely Milien. His brother is Jean Daniel Jeudi, known as "Gime."
Tilou, 23, is a well-known hit man, according to police sources. He told
the investigation he is innocent. He has no known source of income, but
when he was picked up, police found $4,000 in his possession, and an
expensive cell phone.
The third suspect in jail also allegedly works for Cadaver. He is
a Haitian who was deported from the United States, under stricter
immigration laws that send criminal non-residents back to their countries
of origin. Two of the other men in jail are policemen who have connections
to influential Lavalas members. One of the policemen, Ralph Leger, had in
his possession the white Cherokee used in the murder, according to police
sources. Another suspect in prison is said to have been a member of the
security force at the Presidential Palace, a place from where several
political murders have been carried out, according to international
An alleged top lieutenant of Cadaver was murdered in daylight in
late January. Gasoline, as he was known, was apparently passing on
information, according to knowledgeable sources.
The first breaks in the investigation came when a man named
Philippe Markington decided to talk to the judge. Known around town for
selling information for a fee, Markington carried a press card and a police
card as identification. Claiming he had coincidentally found himself near
the site of the murder at 6 a.m. on April 3, the informant said he saw
everything that occurred that day.
But his information was so "sharp" according to sources close to
the investigation, that police became suspicious and jailed him as a
suspicious member of the assassination team. Police even believe he could
have been an alternative hit man. Markington allegedly came forward
because he wanted the court to intercede and release some of his friends
who were in jail on an unrelated case.
Markington even tried to get the U.S. Embassy involved in the
case. He had developed a relationship with the U.S. Embassy's public
affairs office and met several times with PAO officer Dan Whitman.
According to a document put together by the Haitian government, Whitman
said he had met with the informant because he provided information on
attacks against the opposition. Questioned by the IAPA, however, Whitman
only said he met with Markington because he represented a civil society
organization. Whitman said he did not know if someone was trying to set
him up with Markington. According to Whitman, Markington had called him "a
number of times" and he had been authorized by his superiors to receive his
visits." Whitman said that when he found out Markington was in jail he
"expressed his concern for his well being, to him and to Haitian government
officials." Whitman said he could not "guess if he was being set up by
Markington or people associated with him.
Markington happens to have been irreplaceable for the
investigation. Although he denies he knows anything about the case,
investigators believe he is part of the killers network used by Toussaint
and others in Port-au-Prince. Among some of the early leads Markington
provided were the license plate number for the white Cherokee used in the
murder. The vehicle led investigators to Jean Wilner Lalane, the former
military man with Lavalas connections who died after the operation on his
buttocks. Lalane was a close associate of Toussaint and a known operator
in a car theft ring that brings stolen cars from Miami by boat and sells
them in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. Stolen cars are used to
launder drug trafficking proceeds, investigators said.
Lalane was detained in June 2000, but wounded in the buttocks when
he attempted to escape. He spent 13 days in Port-au-Prince's general
hospital, refusing treatment because he feared he would be killed to stop
him from talking. The day he chose a doctor, one of his lawyers,
apparently Jean Claude Nord, arranged for Lalane's transfer to a private
hospital where Alix Charles, an orthopedist, operated on him. Why an
orthopedist operated Lalane was never explained. But when Lalane died, the
doctor panicked and called Montas and the judge on the case. After
testifying for the prosecution, he left Haiti for an undisclosed location.
Investigators are not kind about Charles's involvement in the
murder. Some think he had done similar work in the past for the same ring.
The initial cause of Lalane's death, according to the death certificate
was heart attack. Lalane was 32-years-old at the time of his death and in
apparent good health. Later Alix Charles changed his version and told a
friend, Pierre Alix Nazon, an urologist and colleague, that Lalane died of
a pulmonary embolism. He claimed Lalane had a shattered hipbone. Police
sources said this is false. The judge is apparently ready to charge
Charles with involuntary homicide. Knowledgeable sources said Lalane
apparently died from poisoning, a favored way of killing opponents in
As Dominique's body laid in the coffin during the funeral ceremony
held at the soccer stadium a group of Lavalas supporters approached the
coffin and danced suggestively around it, chanting anti-opposition slogans.
In the heat of the moment, one of the supporters slipped a picture of Dany
Toussaint inside the coffin. One of Dominique's nephews witnessed the
incident and pulled the photo out. The action, however, has puzzled
investigators as they have tried to understand its meaning.
To some this was a cynical display by Toussaint. Whatever the
meaning, it was a macabre gesture, considering most of Haiti is convinced
Sen. Toussaint is behind Dominique's murder. If the judge is able to
bring Sen. Toussaint before a court of justice, he will be testing the
capacity of the judicial system and possibly need a big push from Aristide
Toussaint has not kept quiet on the face of attacks and charges on
the Dominique murder. He has even accused the widow, Michele Montas of
planning the murder. His lawyer Jean Claude Nord, has charged Michele
Montas with organizing the attacks against Toussaint, to thwart his chance
to run in the 2006 presidential elections.
Today Toussaint is an influential and popular Lavalas leader.
Accused by U.S. Cong. Dan Gilman last April as a top drug trafficker in
Haiti, Toussaint was elected senator after spending thousands of dollars
building soccer fields in Port-au-Prince's poor neighborhoods—a gesture
reminiscent of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He received the
highest percentage of votes in the legislative elections, drawing on his
popularity among young men, who constitute the largest population sector in
A former military officer, Toussaint became close to Aristide's
political movement in the early 1990s after claiming he had refused to
carry out an order to assassinate the former priest. In 1997, he was
arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Washington
sources said the intelligence officials, who have enough information on
Toussaint did not pass it on in time to INS. Toussaint was released after
Elected on a public safety platform, Toussaint promised to be tough
on crime, an ironic twist given the rumors about his alleged involvement in
drug trafficking. Toussaint's election to the Senate gives him ample power
in Haiti. For one, he has immunity on the Dominique case. Even if the
judge found enough evidence to take him before a court of law because of
the murder, the Senate is Lavalas controlled and would never vote to lift
Toussaint's immunity. Already, the Senate has circled the wagons around