Wednesday, August 16, 2006
FOUR ARISTIDE SUPPORTERS FINALLY RELEASED FROM JAIL
Annette Auguste better known as So Anne, who spent 826 nights sleeping in a prison cell, is now home with her family. So is Georges Honoré (813 nights) Yvon Antoine (Zap Zap) (812 nights) and Paul Raymond (388 nights).
The prosecutors conceded that there was no evidence against the four, and the judge accordingly made a finding of not guilty.
"There has been no evidence linking those people to these incidents," said Judge Fils-Aime as he ordered the release.
The four were arrested over an outbreak of violence at a university and the wounding of its dean but no evidence was produced, as in the cases of many other former Aristide allies jailed during the U.S.-backed interim administration of prime minister Gerard Latortue.
The Auguste case was highlighted by Amnesty International, which said she had been seized by US Marines - part of an international force deployed to Haiti - who said she had been arrested on suspicion of "possessing information that could pose a threat to the US military force".
During the arrest they killed her two dogs and cuffed and hooded all members of her family, including four minors under the age of 15.
Even though the US military admitted it found no weapons or evidence to support the allegations against her writes the Independent, she was taken into custody and held by the interim government of Gerard Latortue, imposed by the US, France and Canada, on suspicion of incitement to violence, though Amnesty said she was never charged with a recognisable offence.
About a dozen prominent Aristide allies -- including former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert -- have been freed since President Rene Preval took over from the interim government in May.
"The interim government and its allies had locked me up because they were aware of my capacity to mobilize the masses," Auguste, a 65 year old grandmother, popular Haitian singer, community organizer and pro-democracy activist, told Reuters.
"They wanted to make sure I did not play any political role that could benefit Aristide. As a brave woman, I confronted that injustice with courage, but it feels good to be free again," she said.
The following is from the Haiti Support Committee.
HAITI: RELEASED FROM JAIL
Four leading supporters of the Lavalas Family party, who have been held in prison since they were arrested between March 2004 and July 2005, have been released. Annette Auguste, Georges Honoré, Yvon Antoine a.k.a Zap Zap, and Paul Raymond - all well-known supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide - had been held without charges and then were finally formally charged in April 2006 in relation to a violent attack by pro-Aristide supporters against students at the State University on 5 December 2003. At the end of a ten hour marathon that took place in the presence of imposing security, the main judge, Fritznel Fils-Aimé, cited a “lack of evidence”, and ordered the immediate release of the four accused, causing an outburst of joy among the many FL supporters seated in the courtroom. “The defendants Annette Auguste, Paul Raymond André Junior, Yvon Antoine, and George Honoré, are declared not guilty of charges of aggravated assault, destruction of public goods and criminal conspiracy”, concluded the judge.