Thursday, November 30, 2006

Brignol Lindor: Cinq ans après

Around this time five years ago, I was beginning my stint as the Reuters correspondent in Port-au-Prince. One of the first big stories that I covered was that of the murder of Haitian radio journalist Brignol Lindor by a gang named Domi Nan Bwa (Sleeping in the Woods), who were loyal to then-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

On December 3, 2001, Lindor, the news director of Radio Echo 2000 in the provincial town of Ti Goave was macheted and beaten to death by Domi Nan Bwa members following a similar though non-lethal attack against Domi Nan Bwa member Joseph Céus Duverger (in which Lindor had no involvement). Lindor’s radio program “Dialogue” though, which often featured speakers strongly denouncing the Aristide government and local officials, had drawn the ire of Petit Goave’s mayor, Dume Bony, a member of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas political party, who had held a press conference immediately preceding the killing and, seated next to Domi Nan Bwa’s leader Raymond Jean Fleury, called for the application of “zero tolerance” to be directed at Lindor.

And so Brignol Lindor was murdered. His funeral a week later (which I witnessed first-hand) was one of the first major expressions of popular outrage at the Aristide government, with thousands of angry protesters flooding Petit Goave’s narrow streets to denounce the killing and call for justice for Lindor and his family. The funeral was interrupted several times by police opening fire on the periphery of the crowd.

Now, five years later, the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans frontières has sent an open letter to Haitian president René Préval and public prosecutor at the Port-au-Prince court Claudy Gassant asking that after “five years of judicial paralysis and intervene so that a new investigating judge may be appointed to this case as soon as possible."

"We are aware of the enormous challenge that the reconstruction of an honest and effective judicial system represents in Haiti,“ the letter continues eloquently. “This process will not be able to take place if Lindor's murder remains unpunished.”

Remember Brignol Lindor.

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