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Seven years after Haitian radio journalist’s murder, seven convicted killers still at large

Seven years after Haitian radio journalist’s murder, seven convicted killers still at large
Protesters demand justice at a demonstration over Haitian journalist Brignol Lindor's gruesome murder, December 11, 2001.Photo: Haiti Progress

Justice still eludes Radio Echo 2000 journalist, Brignol Lindor, who was murdered in the southwestern town of Petit-Goâve, Haiti in 2001. Two men implicated in the murder were given life sentences in December 2007. Seven others, convicted in absentia of Linder’s murder on January 23 this year, are still on the run.

Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) hopes the appointment of Lindor’s family lawyer Jean Joseph Exumé as Justice Minister on November 7 will bring complete closure to a case that has dragged on for too long. “The political will demonstrated by President René Préval’s government helped to put an end to the scandal of a case in which there was complete impunity for six years.”

The young journalist was stoned and hacked to death on December 3, 2001 in Petit-Goâve by members of Domi Nan Bwa (“Sleep in the Woods”), a locally-based armed group linked to Fanmi Lavalas, the party led by then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Four days before the murder, a press conference was held in Petit-Goâve by several local figures linked to Fanmi Lavalas, including Petit-Goâve mayor Emmanuel Antoine and his deputy, Bony Dumay, who launched into a violent verbal attack on the opposition Democratic Convergence coalition and Lindor, was considered to be one of its allies. Another meeting was held three days later, on the eve of his murder, this time between municipal officials and members of Domi Nan Bwa.

One of Domi Nan Bwa’s chiefs, Joseph Céus Duverger, was attacked the next morning by presumed Democratic Convergence supporters. This incident was used as a pretext for the targeted reprisal against Lindor later in the day. Evidence of this came from the fact that around ten Domi Nan Bwa members were on the point of executing Democratic Convergence member Love Augustin at his home but, when Lindor arrived on the scene, they let him go and seized Lindor.

Despite all the evidence, the indictment issued by the judge, Fritzner Duclair, on September 16, 2002 failed to bring charges against any of the presumed instigators of Lindor’s murder. The seven persons convicted were Maxi Zéphyr, Bernard Désamour, Tyrésias (also known as Téré), Fritznel Duvergé, Mackenzi, Belony Colin and Fritznel Doudoute (aka Lionel and Nènèl).

The arrests warrants were issued for the persons named in the 2007 indictment. Four persons were arrested but only two of them were convicted and given life sentences. The two defendants who received life sentences then were Joubert Saint-Juste and Jean-Remy Demosthene. “The life sentences are proportionate to the particularly barbaric way Lindor was murdered,” says RSF. One of the other two, Simon Cétoute, 57, was acquitted because it turned out he had been arrested instead of his son, who had the same first name and who had recently died in the nearby town of Léogane.

And it emerged that the fourth defendant, Fritzner Doudoute, was mistaken at the time of his arrest for Fritznel Doudoute, and had not been named in either the 2002 indictment or in the arrest warrant issued last year. Witnesses identified him in court as one of the people who participated in Lindor’s murder. He, therefore, remained in detention and was to be the subject of a new judicial investigation that could also target Dumay, the petit-Goave deputy mayor at the time of the murder, who was summoned to testify at the trial.

Fritznel Doudoute, also known as Lionel and Nènèl, was one of the seven indicted Domi Nan Bwa members who were convicted in absentia by Petit-Goâve chief judge Emmanuel Tataye. The judge had ordered the confiscation of all their possessions and assets and the suspension of their civil and political rights.

One of the presumed killers, Joubert Saint-Just, was detained by the inhabitants of nearby Miragoâne on March 30, 2005 and handed over to the police, but that was for an unrelated reason. The case was then held up in the Supreme Court, to which the Lindor family referred its request to be granted civil part status in the case on April 21, 2003 after being turned down by the appeal court.

In September 2007, Préval pledged the support for an independent committee evaluating stalled investigations into a series of unsolved journalist murders. He also claimed that all political obstacles to justice had now been removed. Prevel met a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and expressed his “full support” for the independent committee. He said the committee was a “signal that will permit us to resolve some crimes.”

Date posted: December 13, 2008 Date modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 924