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a390: REPORT - ASSASSINATION OF THE REPORTER BRIGNOL (PART I) (fwd)
From: Stanley Lucas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
INVESTIGATION INTO THE ASSASSINATION OF THE REPORTER BRIGNOL LINDOR
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
OF THE HAITIAN PRESS FEDERATION
A Preliminary Investigative Commission was set up by the Haitian Press Federation (FPH) including: l'Union des Journalistes du Plateau Central (Union of Journalists of the Central Plateau); L'Association des Journalistes et Directeus de Medias de l'Artibonite (The Association of Journalists and Media Directors of Artibonite); l'Association de Solidarite des Journalistes du Sud (The Association of Journalists of Solidarity of the South) which is responsible for Human Rights within the FPH; Port-au-Prince Presse Club (Port-a-Prince Press Club); l'Ordre des Journalistes du Nord (The Order of Journalists of the North); and l'Association des Journalistes de Fort Libérté (The Association of Journalists of Fort Libérté).
Headed by the Federation's President, Mr. Adyjeangardy, the Commision conducted an investigation in Petit Goave in the days that followed the odious assassination of Brignol Lindor, Adjunct Secretary of the Association des Journalistes de Petit Goave (AJPEG), in order to gather all available elements and data to reach an objective conclusion on his assassination. AJPEG is responsible for Judicial Affairs within the Haitian Press Federation.
Our investigation was based on several elements:
The career of the assassinated journalist
Crime scene and related evidence
Status of the preliminary investigation
The political environment
Statements of the judicial authorities
Statements of the City Council and the local organization "Domi lan Bwa" (Sleeping in the woods)
Statements of the Police Department
Statements of the Association des Journalistes de Petit Goave.
BIODATA ON ASSASSINATED JOURNALIST BRIGNOL LINDOR
Born on November 4th, 1970 at Petit Goave, Brignol Lindor completed his elementary
education at l'Ecole Nationale des Palmes (10th section of Petit Goave). He obtained his high school diploma from Lycee Faustin Soulouque, in his town of birth. He was 20 years old when he became involved in the first democratic elections in Haiti since 1929, organized in 1990 by the Honorable Ertha Pascal Trouillot. He shared the enthusiasm of hundreds of Petit Goave's natives who in 1991 were "shocked" by the coup against President Aristide. He devoted 3 years of his life (1991-1994) to defend arduously the "necessity to return to constitutional order and the return of President Aristide". He constantly endangered his own life for the aforementioned case. In the meantime, he registered in journalism school where he graduated at the top of his class after two years. He then studied judicial sciences at the Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques in Port-au-Prince where he obtained his law degree. At 25 years old, he returned to Petit-Goave where he showed a great passion for philosophy, which he ended up teaching in various educational centers in his native town. At the same time,, he taught at l'Ecole de Droit de Miragoane. He also offered his services to Radio Signal FM as a Press Correspondent.
When his young friend Alezi Ardouin decided to create Radio Echo 2000 three years ago, at his residence, the house of his mother, Mrs. Nortilia Ardouin, Lindol he was asked to serve as news Director. Along with other journalists from the region, he created the Association des Journalistes de Petit Goave (AJPEG) of which he became the Adjunct General Secretary. In 1999, along with AJPEG's General Secretary Mrs. Michelene Hilaire, he requested and obtained affiliation with to the Haitian Press Federation, "for a larger national campaign for a free Haitian press and freedom of expression" he wrote. He participated shortly thereafter in special journalism training in the U.S., at the recommendation of the Haitian Press Federation. He then returned to Haiti, determined as ever to stay in Petit Goave where he also worked as a Custom Inspector amongst other things. The assassination of Jean Leopold Dominique in April 2000 troubled him. He never stopped demanding investigation and prosecution of the killers.
On his show "Dialogue", he invited all partisans of President Aristide as well as members of the democratic opposition to speak freely. On November 28th, 2001, he aired an interview with several members of the opposition who called for the resignation of the president. On the next day, Adjunct Mayor Dumay Bony was rather upset and organized a press conference and rally for the application of the Zero-Tolerance formula (open and public lynching) on Brignol Lindor, whose name he called from a list. Five days later, on December 3, 2001 at Croix Hilaire, 5 kilometers from Petit Goave. Lindor was stabbed in the back with a pickax and then cut into pieces with machetes by members of the group Domi Lan Bwa., a violent group which claims to be affiliated to the Aristide Government
The Commission of the Haitian Press Federation listened to a multitude of witnesses including Journalist Emmanuel Espoir Cledamor, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Association des Journalistes de Petit Goave, who accompanied Lindor on December 3rd, and many residents of the area.
According to Cledanor, in the morning of December 3, 2001, Lindor went to his Customs job at about 8:00 a.m. to inform his colleagues that he would go to Miragoane. In light of the declaration made by the Mayor five (5) days earlier, many persons from his job advised Lindor to be careful, but his repeated response was "they could kill Brignol Lindor, but they could never bury the right of free speech and freedom of the press". Cledanor explained that Lindor came to his house later that morning so that Cledanor could drive with him to Miragoane where the he had to teach at the Law School of Miragoane. Cledanor borrowed his father's car and drove off with Lindor, en route to Miragoane at about 10:30 a.m.
Lindor and Cledanor left Petit Goave as 700 students from Lycee Faustin Soulouque took the streets to protest, shouting slogans hostile to the government. According to the testimony of Montigène Sincère, Correspondent of Voice of America and Radio Haiti Focus of Petit Goave, leaders of the Convergence Party took to the streets attacking along their path those who showed hostility towards them. A Fanmi Lavalas partisan (President Aristide's Party), Joseph Duverger, was taken aside and badly cut by a machete at 11:15 a.m., according to witnesses' account. Mr Cemeres Beaulière, the Second Adjunct Mayor, arrested a member of Convergence Party. The police dispersed the gathering rather quickly with clubs.
Brignol Lindor was still on his way to Miragoane with his friend Emmanuel Cledanor of Radio Plus of Port-a-Prince and recent Correspondent of Radio Maxima of Cap Haitian. Suddenly around Croix St. Jean, 3 2 Kilometers from Petit Goave, someone stopped their car at a barricade, carefully studying the car's occupants without a word, as if he was making sure of the presence of someone he was looking for. He then shook his head and ordered them to continue on. The 2 journalists then pursued their route exchanging small talk. Two kilometers farther, they noticed a gathering around a motorcycle, right in the middle of the street, a few steps from l'Ecole Nationale de l'Accul, they slowed down as they passed through.
The motorcyclist, Mr. Love Augustin testified to the Federation's Commission to have in fact seen Lindor and Cledanor's vehicle pass by while he was negotiating with the crowd, rather full of very excited individuals asking him whether he was one of President Aristide's enemies, a member of the Convergence. Mr. Love, who was never affiliated to the Convergence Party had to swear as crowd members pointed a machete to his neck that he knew nothing about politics when suddenly a voice from the crowd cried: "Look over in that car, it is Brignol Lindor! We have received official orders to kill him before he reaches Miragoane, it's him! It is indeed him that we are are looking for!" Then, the crowd abandoned Mr. Augustin, and rushed after the car, using whistles that mobilize dozens of other armed individuals; They came from the woods, out of the trees, and the narrow roads, chanting like furious Azombis' with daggers, knives, machetes and pickax in hand shouting frightening sounds. They circled the carY
According to Mr. Emmanuel Espoir, Cledanor who was driving came out of the car and attempts to explain. He mentioned that he and his friend are journalists. Brignol Lindor calmly remained in the car. Suddenly, someone screamed "Don't touch carpenter Lescot's son, he is not at fault, it is Brignol that we want!"
While the other individuals from the crowd started to break the car windows and hit Brignol Lindor with a multitude of rocks, Emmanuel Espoir Cledanor whose family is from l'Acul and whose brother is a judge at Petit Goave is taken by the hands by about two (2) individuals who showed him a sugar cane field nearby. Brignol went down and lay low on the seat. They opened the car door shouting such profanities as: "KK, you will learn to respect us"! Brignol does not see how he will get out of this. He managed to run away from the crowd as did his friend who was led through the sugar cane plantation. Lindor sought refuge in the first house he came to as he ran from the violent crowd to ask for help. That was the home of Petel Fils Zephyr, a member of the City Commission (Assemblée de Section Communale (ASEC). He was taken from the inside of that house and thrown out to be literally devoured by the crowd.
Emmanuel Espoir Cledanor had time to see Maxi Zéphyr, Petiel Fils Zephyr' brother, throwing the first rock. Lindor is hit on the chest, limps, and tries to show his media identification. His tie is pulled dragging his whole body forward as another individual totally hysterical, hit him with a pickax on the back, piercing through to his chest. Brignol falls face down. Then, his frail body is sliced with machetes, knives, as if he were a dangerous animal. The crowd holds him by the tie and drags his body through the streets then turns the bloody and massacred cadaver face up. It is 11:20 in the morning. Brignol's blood is flooding the streets. This is not an act of revenge but a "guet apens".
The "militia" full of rage cries and chants victoriously. They believe that they just killed an "enemy of the family". One of them suggests burning Lindor's body, the majority protests saying that they must leave the body as an example and symbol. They prefer to throw him in a flack of dirty and polluted water the dislocated body parts that now make up the journalist Brignol Lindor. Then they disappeared in thin air, like a gang of phantoms who appear in the middle of the day, at noontime, confusing the day with the nightY
CRIME SCENE AND EVIDENCE
Throughout the day, the police ignored the crime. The reporter Emmanuel Espoir Cledanor escaped through the sugar cane fields and jumped in a minibus, then called the police on the telephone as he arrived in Petit Goave around noon. After attentively listening to Lindor, the Supervisor responded: "Excuse me sir, I have to hang up!" Cledanor calls back, pointing out that the situation was alarming. The supervisor calmly responds once more: "Excuse me sir, I will terminate this call". Cledanor again dialed the number, which this time remained busy for over one hour. The police register commonly called "main courante" by the officers shows no record of Cledanor's emergency calls for help.
Cledanor continued to call until finally the supervisor picked up the telephone once more saying: "The police chief is absent and I can do nothing for you!" Cledanor calls his brother, Judge Alex Cledanor. The police then went to the crime scene around 5 o'clock p.m., according to Emmanel Cledanor. His car was then set on fire at sunset around 6:00 p.m. In the meantime, all evidence such as the bloody tie of the journalist are displaced and have disappeared from the crime scene. The bloody tie was removed and sent to Radio Echo 2000 as "proof" and a "present".
Brignol Lindor's parents testified to the Haitian Press Federation's Commission that they also went to the Police Department of Petit Goave. They were asked to go home and were given no assistance. They then went to the judge to ask him to accompany them to the crime scene with a Justice of the Peace to fill the necessary formalities and take eye witnesses's testimonies on the crime. The Justice of Peace refused to go as requested by Lindor' parents, saying that he has ordered his staff to take care of it.. Lindor's parents decided immediately to go alone to the crime scene to take Lindor's dislocated body parts and return with the body to Petit Goave and arrange his funeral. Lindor's cousin, a young priest alerted the Episcopalian Conference. In the vehicle that brought the body, the mourning and painful cries of Lindor's parents cut the air. They cross on the road a police car that turned around and followed them until they reached Villa Notre Dame, the funeral home where Substitute Judge Dumercier Bellande declared Lindor dead without going to the crime scene.
The police department did not register the name of any suspect that day. The evidence was completely neglected and not handled at all. The crime scene was not secured. The primary crime scene, the escape itineraries, the spontaneous declarations of possible suspects, none was investigated, no elementary procedure on the homicide had been recorded by the Police. Moreover, they did not search for or question anyone who was present at the crime sceneY
The police did not either seek to determine and record the area of the crime. In addition, no photographs were taken. No canvassing was done. No fingerprints, no photographs of the sliced body, or other pertinent information was registered by the police.
The Haitian Press Federation's Commission noted therefore that no pertinent information was gathered from the crime scene. Neither was anything done to preserve, describe, document and thus facilitate any judicial investigation.
STATUS OF THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION
The Haitian Press Federation's Commission is strongly interested in the way the judicial authorities addressed the case. Judge Alex Cledanor, at the onset, recused himself citing conflict of interest. He said he was too directly involved, given that his brother Emmanuel Espoir Cledanor was driving the victim the day of the assassination and would be called to testify.
Judge Cledanor explained that it is up to the State Attorney (Commissaire du Gouvernement) to open the case with an investigation request so that the police act immediately and so that a subpoena can be issued particularly to the political organizations accused at the onset.
"Commissaire du Gouvergement" Frantz Philemon, based in Leogane, assisted by Substitute Judge Dumerzier Bellande, who is based in Petit Goave now feels threatened. He bases his fear on the simple fact that he had begun pre-trial procedures on the case and drafted a list of individuals to appear to testify on the matter. That list would include especially names of members of the Convergence Party according to the opposition.
Judge Alex Cledanor of Petit Goave informed the Haitian Press Federation's Commission that there are no "grounds" and that he does not plan to trial this case either: "Another Judge needs to be assigned to this case" he says. He prefers to turn to the Interim Dean of the civil Court Mr. Emmanuel Tataille who has re-opened the Tribunal last October, with no official nomination to replace retired Judge Dean Emmanuel St. Amour who's aptitude are deemed limited as well. Judge Cledanor also turns to the 3rd Circuit Judge of Petit Goave, Mr. Duclerc Fritzner and principally towards the Federal State Attorney (Procureur de la Republique) who has already being "threatened" since the very beginning of the preliminary investigation.
If he feels "too threatened", he can, according to explanations from the Bar, at the receipt of the first report from the investigation (on the basis of the findings and declarations of the Substitute) either "file them and do no follow up" and await formal instructions from the Executive branch. In addition, the suspects left no evidence according to the first very Averbal" incident reports of the Petit Goave Police Department.
Judge Alex Cledanor is formal: "We cannot try a case without documentation, without preliminary investigation from the Police, and without the request from the State Attorney. And, even if we go through with this, there needs to be a desire from the public to apply the law: take for instance the murder case of the "this couple who were cut in pieces with a machete at Petit Goave, as a Judge, I gave a list along with arrest warrants on the suspects. Some people came to destroy the Civil Court of Petit Goave in the middle of the day, the police was not willing to help, no one was arrested and the assailants are still on the loose". What do we do then? Asked the Federation's Commission. Judge Cledanor got up suddenly and responded: "I must tell you sincerely that even if another colleague accepts to bring the Lindor case to trial, I do not guarantee any serious result if the press does not play a role and maintain the pressure to see that the laws are properly applied."
THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT AT PETIT GOAVE
Brignol Lindor is dead in a very politicized environment, some 70 kilometers west of Port-au-prince, on the northern coast of the southern island the Indians called Aguava (La Meduse). This "political" city which just saw the spectacular execution of a young journalist crystallizes Haitian political passions. There are about 20 political organizations in Petit Goave. The 10 most influential include:
President Aristide Party
MPSN - Mouvement Pour la Sauvegarde Nationale
MOREP B Mouvement Revolutionnaire
OPL - Oganizasyon Pep en Lut
MOLTIG - Mouvement Lavalas de Petit Goave
Rassemblement Capois La Mort
MTF B Multiplicateur Fanmi Lavalas
MJR B Mouvement des Jeunes Revolutionnaires
UMIPEG B Unon des Militants Lavalas de Petit Goave
GDB - Groupe Domi lan Bwa -
Vigilantes Sleeping in the Woods
Radical and ultra nationalist political leaders lead some of these organizations. These leaders have become true experts in organized strategies to fight politically in rural areas.
In this explosive environment also lives Petit Goave's Bishop, the Reverend Edwidge Carre who is considered as President Aristide's eyes and ears in the region. Reverend Carred has for 20 years been preaching on the basis of the theology of liberation. He has played a key role in the downfall of Duvalier in 1986 before he was sent to Kenskoff under the direction of Father Sicot. He was sent back to Petit Goave under the new presidence of Mr. Aristide. He is supported by numerous influential popular organizations (OP) at Petit Goave including Henri Claude Leconte. The Association des Journalistes de Petit Goave and Lindor's family had expressed their desire to hear a statement from Reverend Carre who kept silent on Lindor's assassination.
In that same environment there is Mr. Dufort Milord, a legislator from Petit Goave who refused to make a public statement on the murder of the journalist. He has been considered for quite some time as the Spokesperson of Fanmi Lavalas in Petit Goave.
Mayor Emmanuel Antoine has not engaged himself publicly on the case either, remaining to date away and managing with the support of the other two (2) City Council members the affairs of Fanmi Lavalas in the city. They have also called for, at a press conference the application of public lynching (zero tolerance principle) against members of the Convergence Party.