In Haiti, former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain who twice helped coups against Jean Bertrand Aristide was acquitted of murder in a secretive trial held during the middle of the night that ended early yesterday. Chamblain was second in command of the paramilitary group FRAPH, the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti. In 1991 the group overthrew Jean Bertrand Aristide’s government and went on to kill thousands of Aristide supporters. After years in exile, he returned to Haiti earlier this year to play a key role in another coup against Aristide, who was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. In 1995, Chamblain and former police official Jackson Joanis were convicted in abstentia of assassinating pro-democracy activist Antoine Izmery. But this week the conviction was overturned during the secretive proceedings. Amnesty International criticized the actions of the new U.S.-backed Haitian government and said “This is a very sad day in the history of Haiti.” The U.S. State Department also publicly criticized the proceedings. A spokesperson said “We deeply regret the haste with which their cases were brought to retrial, resulting in procedural deficiencies that call into question the integrity of the process.”
In Iraq, a delegation of Iraqi political leaders have failed to secure a cease fire agreement in Najaf. The delegates traveled from Baghdad to Najaf yesterday with hopes of meeting with Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. Sadr refused to meet with them in part because of continued attacks by the U.S. military. A Sadr spokesperson condemned the U.S. for “preventing peaceful negotiations.” But Sadr has suggested that he would welcome an offer from the Vatican to mediate an end to the fighting. Meanwhile in Mosul, at least five Iraqis died after a rocket was fired into a market.
The Army whistleblower who first revealed the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq is now living in protective military custody because of death threats. The family of specialist Joseph Darby said he and his wife were forced to flee their home weeks ago because of the threats. Seven members of Darby’s Military Police Company have been charged with abusing detainees at the prison.
An Albany, the government has admitted to a judge that it incorrectly translated a key document that was used as evidence to back the arrest of two local Muslim leaders. According to the Albany Times Union, the government Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain in part because it found a notebook in a Kurdish camp in Iraq that identified Aref as a “commander.” But now the government has admitted that the Army mistranslated the contents of the notebook. What they thought was the Arabic word for “commander” was actually the Kurdish word for “brother.” Aref and Hossain have been charged with aiding a government informant in a sting operation involving a fake plot to buy a shoulder-fired missile to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat. The government claims their case remains strong despite the mistranslation. But Aref’s lawyer, Terence Kindlon, said the error is emblematic of deeper problems in the government’s case, and that his client would seek a new bail hearing. Kindlon said, “It looks to be a two-bit frame-up. I suspect that there is something political driving this.”
In Mexico, the National Commission of Human RIghts has concluded that Mexican police illegally detained protesters and tortured some of them during a recent economic summit in Guadalajara. The commission found police illegally detained 73 protesters — 19 of whom were tortured. Some 17 Mexican activists remain under arrest on charges of gang activity, robbery and causing injury.
And finally discount for dissent but where to do it? Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a press conference yesterday to welcome protesters to the city by offering self-identified peaceful protesters discounts in city restaurants and on Broadway during the Republican National Convention. Bloomberg said ” The right to protest is a basic American right … and New York City is a place where you can come and get your message out.” But across the street, four members of Code Pink were arrested for unfurling a banner calling for the city to allow an anti-war rally in Central Park. The banner read: “You say welcome, we say where? Central Park.”
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