Secretive Trial Acquits Haitian Death Squad Leader

18 August 2004 | DemocracyNow!

Keywords: Jodel Chamblain, FRAPH

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.”

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