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2005-04-25

Fmr. Haitian Prime Minister Beaten in Prison as Interim Gv’t Prepares to Charge Him in Connection with Political Killings

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The US-backed interim government of Haiti is preparing to charge former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune with having a role in a series of political killings in the town of St. Marc. in February 2004. Meanwhile, his family says he was badly beaten on Friday. We speak with a friend of Yvon Neptune, Jean-Jean Pierre. [includes rush transcript]

The US-backed interim government of Haiti is preparing to charge former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune with having a role in a series of political killings in the town of St. Marc in February 2004. Neptune served as prime minister under Jean Bertrand Aristide who was ousted last year in what he calls a modern-day kidnapping in the service of a coup d’etat backed by the United States. He has denied the accusations and has refused legal representation because he believes his prosecution is illegitimate and illegal. This according to Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy.

Neptune’s family says he was badly beaten on Friday as he was taken to a court in Saint Marc to be charged.

Neptune’s indictment comes four days after officials charged former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert in the St. Marc killings. Neptune and Privert had been among dozens of former government officials who had been jailed without charge since Aristide’s ouster.

  • Jean-Jean Pierre, friend of Yvon Neptune.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are joined now on the phone by Jean-Jean Pierre, a friend of Yvon Neptune. Welcome to Democracy Now!

JEAN-JEAN PIERRE: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you give us the latest — we only have a few minutes — but the latest on what you understand happened to the former prime minister, Yvon Neptune, on Friday morning?

JEAN-JEAN PIERRE: Well, after a month stay at a hospital run by the U.N., on Thursday, this past Thursday, Yvon Neptune was transferred to an annex of the prison, still run by the — conjointly by the — I’m sorry, jointly by the U.N. and the Haitian police on Thursday. On Friday morning, 4:00 in the morning, was taken by force to St. Marc, but he resisted, because he wanted his attorney first. He didn’t want to be tried, at least to be heard in St. Marc because, as you aptly said, he has not been charged. So this is preventive imprisonment, and it’s been a year now. And in the process, he resisted and apparently even bit someone who hit him, and that’s when they tortured him. They beat him up simply because that is traditionally the reaction of Haitian police. Very — the U.N. — by the way, it’s the U.S.-trained Haitian police. If you know, according to Small Arms Survey, an independent group, the U.S. just spent $6 million arming this police, which is accused of human rights violations. So, it’s so badly that when he arrived at St. Marc, that the U.N. now picked him up from — by helicopter because when he went there, it was by car. And it’s a treacherous road going to St. Marc, two-and-a-half hours, and the guy was already six days into his hunger strike. So today, this is the eighth day. He has not drunk any liquid, has not eaten and his wife and other relatives to whom I spoke late last night told me that in two days he will probably get into a coma, if this continues, if the situation remains. So, I think this is an S.O.S., and I think the U.N. will be directly responsible, as well as the White House, for not only orchestrating a coup, not only keeping an illegitimate government on, but also for creating a situation where these people feel with impunity, the de facto government in Haiti feel with impunity, they can arrest people without charging them. And I believe it’s not only Yvon, it’s, as you said, So Anne, another Lavalas artist.

AMY GOODMAN: The musician. But just as we have 30 seconds now on Yvon Neptune, has he been charged with orchestrating the political killings in St. Marc?

JEAN-JEAN PIERRE: Well, he has not been charged actually, because he has never appeared before a judge to be formally charged, but the police, the reason they — they arrested him illegally, by the way. According to the Constitution, you cannot arrest someone after 6:00 p.m. It’s because there were two gangs pro and against Aristide fighting in St. Marc, and there was some killings from both sides, but these people wanted to humiliate Yvon, but also they wanted to prevent him from taking part of the next presidential elections. I think that is the main reason.

AMY GOODMAN: Jean-Jean Pierre, I want to thank you for being with us. We’ll continue to follow the story this week.

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