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9399: Haitian Times Editorial: The Dominique Investigation (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>

The Dominique Investigation

First we heard that Dany Toussaint was going to be indicted for the
murder of Jean Dominique. Then Toussaint went on the offensive
telling every reporter who would listen that he's not going to be
indicted. He began insinuating that former President René Préval
and ex-Justice Minister Camille Leblanc might somehow know a
lot more than they are willing to say. As if that wasn't enough,
Judge Claudy Gassant fled the country, leaving the fate of the
investigation ambiguous at best.

We do not know who killed our esteemed colleague Dominique,
and his guard Jean-Claude Louissaint on April 3, 2000, but we
know that his murderers remain at large. This is unacceptable.
These two men were gunned down in broad daylight. There were
witnesses and yet no one has been indicted. We are not asking
for an arrest simply for the sake of arresting someone. Justice c
an be done and should be done.

This case is brimming with irony. Dominique was a sort of
unofficial advisor to Préval and yet the former president has
appeared powerless in finding justice for his close friend.
Dominique spent years criticizing the various Duvalier regimes,
having been exiled, beaten and tortured under the hands of
these right-wingers. Yet his death occurred while the country
is supposedly under a democratic government.

The Dominique case underscores a fundamental flaw in Haiti
and its institution. If a prominent journalist who is a friend of the
president and former president can be killed so brazenly, what
happens to a poor person with no political or social connections?
Well, the answer unfortunately has been staring at us. There has
been chaos across Haiti and those in power act more like victim
themselves, asking for answers. We want the right person to be
indicted and eventually convicted in a free and fair trial. There
have been lots of fingers pointed at Toussaint. We have no
proof because Gassant is the second judge to have dropped
the case for fear of his life. That is disturbing to us.

While some human rights groups have been leading a campaign
for justice for Dominique and putting pressure on the Haitian
government to move the case forward, we urge the international
community to include the resolution of the Dominique case as a
condition to release funds. Foreign donors have frozen more
than $400 million in aid to Haiti asking for political reforms.
Dominique, a champion of the poor, deserves better.

We know that the justice system in Haiti is weak, but it's not
so feeble that it can't find the murderer of one of its most
prominent citizen. Judges should not have to drop a case
for fear of their lives. Something is terribly amiss here.