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8301: Haiti-Judge Quits (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, June 13 (AP) -- A judge who had been assigned to
investigate the death of Haiti's most prominent journalist recused himself
just days away from expected indictments in the case.
   Claudy Gassant quit the investigation into the death of Jean Dominique
Wednesday, saying security concerns had forced the decision.
   "My decision to resign is irrevocable," Gassant told The Associated
Press after sending his resignation to Justice Minister Gary Lissade.
   In early May, Gassant threatened to resign, saying he feared for his
life and had not been given adequate police protection.
   Gassant was the second judicial investigator. His predecessor,
Jean-Senat Fleury, withdrew for security reasons in September after five
months on the job.
   So far six suspects have been detained and 80 people questioned.
   On April 3, 2000, gunmen shot Dominique, 69, seven times, minutes before
he was to give his widely listened to 6 a.m. newscast at Radio Haiti Inter,
the station he owned. A guardian of the station, Jean-Claude Louissaint,
was also fatally shot.
   Last week, Gassant sent his voluminous report with findings on the case
to government prosecutor Josue Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis was expected to
send his comments back to Gassant next week; but Gassant had complete
responsibility in the indictments, which were to be issued after he
received Pierre-Louis' comments.
   "My resignation doesn't mean the investigation must begin from scratch,"
said Gassant.
   An outspoken advocate for change, Dominique made many enemies. He was
former President Rene Preval's unofficial adviser, and together they set up
a nationwide peasants union which many saw as a threat to Aristide's hold
on the peasant majority and as a possible power base for Dominique, who
reportedly contemplated running for president.
   Dominique's widow, Michele Montas, has said Sen. Dany Toussaint -- a
member of Aristide's ruling party, Lavalas -- would be indicted for the
crime. Toussaint has declared his innocence.
   Unless the Senate lifts his parliamentary immunity, Toussaint could not
be arrested until his term ends in 2006.