Friday, May 18, 2007

Another journalist slain in Haiti as an accused murderer walks free

From Haiti we hear that Alix Joseph, director of Radio-Télé Provinciale, a private radio station in the northern Haitian port town of Gonaives, was shot and killed there on Wednesday night by two unidentified gunmen as he sat in a car with his fiancée, the Associated Press and Haiti’s Radio Kiskeya are reporting. Evidently, some in the town, which is rife with competing armed politico-criminal factions of varying loyalties, had recently grown irked at the station’s reporting on corruption issues in the region. In some aspects, the killing is worryingly reminiscent of the slaying of government Deputy Marc-Andre Durogène in February 2002.

The killing comes following what is possibly the darkest day for the Haitian judiciary since René Préval assumed the presidency last year: The liberation without trial of former Fanmi Lavalas party Deputy Amanus Mayette, a man accused of the most atrocious human rights abuses as the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide sputtered to an end in February 2004. As one of the leaders of the pro-Aristide Bale Wouze paramilitary gang in the northern Haitian town of Saint-Marc, Mayette has been accused by multiple witnesses of being one of the organizers of the multi-day mass killing of Aristide opponents - as well as politically unaffiliated civilians - in the town over that month when, by authoritative accounts, at least 27 people were slain . Mayette, accounts of eyewitnesses claim, also helped to decapitate Leroy Joseph in front of his wife and children in Saint-Marc that month. The result of some rather curious maneuvering by public prosecutor Rocky Pierre, the release occurs shamefully on the heels of the death of Hugues Saint-Pierre, the president of the Cour d’Appel des Gonaïves, in a road accident and has occasioned protests by the victims and families of victims of the 2004 killings.

Those victims of Saint Marc still cry out for justice but, alas, there still seems to be precious little of that in today’s Haiti.

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