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learnedly read, too; in part, of intellectual rigor
Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008
Liberty, not yet for former Haiti PM
By Jonathan Katz, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - A former Haitian prime minister is pressing the
government to comply with an international court ruling and resolve allegations
that he masterminded the killings of political opponents.
Yvon Neptune, prime minister under ousted former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, was accused by a U.S.-backed successor government of orchestrating the
slayings of at least 25 people some two weeks before Aristide went into exile
following an armed rebellion.
Neptune was imprisoned for more than two years without trial, fueling
allegations of political persecution. Much of that time was spent in
Port-au-Prince's overcrowded National Penitentiary.
He was released in 2006 after a hunger strike that left him emaciated and unable
to stand, but the Haitian government's charges against him were not dismissed.
In a recently released ruling, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered
President Rene Preval's administration to either dismiss charges or hold a
trial. The Costa Rica-based court also awarded Neptune US$95,000 for
compensation related to his detention.
Haitian officials, who did not return requests for comment Wednesday, have not
complied with either order by the court, which investigates human rights
violations when justice cannot be guaranteed in national courts.
In a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press, Neptune, who has maintains his
innocence, said he believes political rivals have refused to drop charges of
having "ordered and participated in the massacre" to prevent him from leading a
reorganization of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party.
"As long as this thing is left like that, dragging and dragging and dragging,
I'll be in a very awkward position. I won't feel completely free to do the
things I would like to do," Neptune said.
Now in visibly better health, sporting a meticulously trimmed white mustache and
goatee, the 61-year-old Neptune said he is willing to face trial to clear his
name of the 2004 slayings in the western town of St. Marc.
"I am not afraid of any constitutional, real judicial process," Neptune said at
his rented villa in the mountains above Port-au-Prince.
Four years after the February 2004 killings, it is still not clear what occurred
in St. Marc.
A Haitian court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to try the case in April
2007, saying only a special parliamentary tribunal could try a government
official. But the case stalled because the parties were never served the ruling
and given a chance to appeal, said Brian Concannon, director of the Institute
for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which represented Neptune before the Costa
Neptune, who said he rarely leaves his mountaintop home for fear of re-arrest or
reprisals, said he agreed to an interview in hopes of pressuring Haitian
officials to resolve the case against him.
Neptune said he sometimes hosts Lavalas organizers at his home to discuss
restoring the party — a feat he said would not require returning Aristide from
exile in South Africa. Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press