By Jacques Pierre Kolo
The double murder on Apr. 3, 2000 of journalist Jean Dominique and his radio station’s guardian Jean-Claude Louissaint resurfaced in the news this week after Joseph C. Guyler Delva, an advisor to the National Palace, announced on Fri., Jan. 17, 2014 the some findings of the investigative report of the case’s examining magistrate Yvikel Dabrézil.
Dominique’s station, Radio Haiti Inter, was at the center of political and ideological debate in the post-1986 period. With a dedicated and battle-hardened team, it earned a special place in the Haitian radio landscape by denouncing stinking and corrupt practices in our nation. Dominique made a choice to fight against the forces of the status quo. That is why he was targeted on many occasions by angry "anti-change" forces who saw him as a man to bring down or get out of the way.
According to statements of Guy Delva, who claimed to be quoting from the indictment (which has not yet been made public) of Judge Dabrézil, a former Haitian senator, Mirlande Libérus, is allegedly the intellectual author of this double murder committed in the courtyard of Jean Dominique’s station. Also according to Guy Delva, who toured Port-au-Prince’s media on Friday to "sell" the indictment, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide should also have been indicted, although he was not charged.
There was no real reaction from the public following the declarations of Guy Delva, the former Secretary of State for Communications of the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. It also wasn’t a scoop. The Haitian people have become accustomed to Delva, the former correspondent of Radio Métropole in the south, putting out this kind of charge against his enemy Aristide, the spiritual leader of the Lavalas Family party. Guy Delva was the first to go public with the Judge Dabrézil's decision to summon former President Aristide to his office for questioning on May 8, 2013 as part of the same case.
It is important to note that the investigation is supposed to be secret in such a case that, almost 14 years later, is still at an impasse. It is true that some lawyers have a different opinion on the need for confidentiality in a case like this, while others believe that, on the contrary, the defendants should be notified first, before the case is made public. How could Guy Delva have access to a judge’s ordinance on such a sensitive case that is not even unsealed yet? Delva, who is also the head of SOS Journalist, is possibly privy to the secrets of the gods, or perhaps, as an advisor to the National Palace, he was called upon to put the information out for a "good reason." Because this matter is primarily political. Each government seeks to use to its own ends the death of Jean Do, as the great journalist was nicknamed.
Not less than 10 judges and state prosecutors have scoured the case of Jean Dominique in whole or in part. Several leading figures have been questioned, including former President René Préval, former Sen. Dany Toussaint, former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, and the leader of the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), Sauveur Pierre Etienne. At least two key witnesses died under very mysterious circumstances: one when undergoing minor surgery at the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, and the other while in a prison in Petit-Goâve. Important documents in the case are missing or buried in the rubble of the Palace of Justice in Port-au-Prince, that housed Cabinet of Instruction (investigating judges) prior to the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010.
Nine people have so far been charged: Mirlande Libérus, Harold Sévère, Annette Auguste (Sò An), Franco Camille, Merité Milien, Dimsley Milien, Toussaint Mercidieu, Jeudi Jean Daniel, and Markington Michel. Among them, two are considered to be the gunmen, and another, an accomplice, said Michèle Montas, the wife of the murdered journalist. She said she believed it was a clear that her husband was killed by powerful men in Haiti, during an interview with Radio Caraïbes, also posted online on Jan. 20, 2014.
What seems odd is that the latest ordinance from Judge Dabrézil, as reported by Guy Delva, has indicted citizens whose names do not appear anywhere in any of the previous ordinances in this case. Needless to say, each government has its own examining magistrate. And each indictment targets its own witnesses or defendants. What a singular small country where justice is so multi-faceted!
Why was Guy Delva given the responsibility to make public excerpts from the report of the Judge Ivikel Dabrézil in the case of Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint? Guy Delva headed a commission established by President René Préval to shed light on the cases of murdered journalists, but it has not been functioning for a long time. Mr. Delva cannot today claim, as he did, to be speaking on behalf of this long-defunct Commission and that this is why he had access to the record of the secret investigation. If that were the case, Mr. Delva would be occupying at least two official functions, one of which is incompatible with the other. In this respect, Sen. John Joël Joseph was correct to point out that "there were clearly political maneuvers and manipulation involved, aimed at weakening a powerful political sector as elections approach."
For the senator, quoted by the Haitian Press Agency on Jan. 17, 2014, there is a very close link between the release of this information and the outcry against former President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier on the third anniversary of his return from golden exile in France.
Rightly, the Collective against Impunity, an association of plaintiffs and human rights organizations, said it deplores what it calls the “trivialization of dictatorship” and attempts to rehabilitate the former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier. The group’s coordinator, Danielle Magloire, a victim of Duvalier, said that "efforts are currently underway at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to reactivate the Duvalier case. These efforts may result in obtaining a session organized by the IACHR in March on the Duvalier case. "
The current regime, inspired by Duvalier and his Tonton Macoutes, faced with this political imbroglio, is trying to make a headlong flight with the case of Jean Dominique to distract the population onto something else. Also, the upcoming elections are a thorn in the foot of the Martelly-Lamothe government.
The regime in place, which is not sure to win the next election if it were free and fair, is attempting to divert, or at the very least weaken, the Lavalas machine, which is presently the strongest political force in the country and, in all likelihood, would be able win any transparent election. During the forthcoming elections, if the regime lost its majority, built with money and promises, in the Chamber of Deputies and could not take control of the Senate, it would be the death knell for President Michel Martelly, who has a sword of Damocles over his head with the Senate resolution calling on the House of Representatives to "impeach" him and the Prime Minister for their "responsibility in the suspicious death" of the Magistrate Jean Serge Joseph.
President Martelly faces great pressure to organize municipal, local, and partial senate elections, and also for renewal of the Chamber of Deputies, especially from the democratic opposition that constantly demands his resignation for "failing to deliver the goods" promised during his election campaign and for his "totalitarianism."
So in an attempt to assure its survival, the Martelly regime is trying to muddy the water and equate Jean-Claude Duvalier (symbol of the dictatorship) with Jean-Bertrand Aristide (symbol of the masses). The Martelly regime in cahoots with a certain sector of the international community will seek to get the Fanmi Lavalas out of the way before organizing the upcoming elections, which will be a crucial step for the country and for the future of the Martelly-Lamothe regime.