4 December 2006
Cassation court rejects request by family for civil party status in journalist Brignol Lindor's murder case
(RSF/IFEX) - The following is a 30 November 2006 RSF letter to Haitian President René Préval, and Port-au-Prince Public Prosecutor Claudy Gassant:
CALL FOR NEW INVESTIGATING JUDGE IN BRIGNOL LINDOR CASE AFTER FIVE YEARS OF IMPUNITY
For the attention of:
Mr. René Préval, President of Haiti
Mr. Claudy Gassant, public prosecutor at the Port-au-Prince court
Dear Mr. President,
Dear Mr. Prosecutor,
Five years have passed since Radio Echo 2000 journalist Brignol Lindor was stoned and hacked to death on 3 December 2001 in Petit-Goâve. These five years of judicial paralysis and impunity lead Reporters Without Borders to ask you to intervene so that a new investigating judge may be appointed to this case as soon as possible.
Our organisation notes with sadness and anger that the Cassation Court has rejected the Lindor family's request to be granted civil party status in the case. This decision surprises us for more than one reason. Firstly, the Lindor family turned to the Cassation Court on 21 April 2003 after an unfavourable response from the appeal court. We find it hard to grasp how and why the Lindor case was left pending at the Cassation Court for two years, as the court was supposed to issue a ruling within two and a half months of the request being submitted. We regret the decision above all because, in practice, it confirms the end of the investigation and, therefore, impunity for this murder.
Everything seems to have been done to conceal the premeditated and planned nature of Lindor's murder, although this was established in a report by the Citizen Commission for the Implementation of Justice (CCAJ) that was submitted to the Ministry of Justice in July 2004.
Four days before Lindor's murder, a press conference was held in Petit-Goâve on 29 November 2001 by several local figures linked to former President Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas, including Petit-Goâve mayor Emmanuel Antoine and his deputy, Bony Dumay, who launched into a violent verbal attack on the opposition Democratic Convergence coalition and Lindor, considered to be one of its allies. Another meeting was held on 2 December, the eve of his murder, this time between municipal officials and members of "Domi nan Bwa," an armed group linked to Fanmi Lavalas.
One of Domi nan Bwa's chiefs, Joseph Céus Duverger, was attacked the next morning by presumed Democratic Convergence supporters. This incident was used as a pretext for the targeted reprisal against Lindor later in the day. Evidence of this comes from the fact that around 10 Domi nan Bwa members were on the point of executing Democratic Convergence member Love Augustin at his home but, when Lindor arrived on the scene, they let him go and seized Lindor.
Despite all these facts, the indictment issued by judge Fritner Duclair on 16 September 2002 failed to bring any charges against any of the presumed instigators of Lindor's murder. No Petit-Goâve municipal officials were ever questioned or detained. Charges were brought against 10 Domi nan Bwa members who took part in the murder but, according to the Lindor family lawyer, none of them was ever detained. One of the presumed killers, Joubert Saint-Just, was detained by the inhabitants of nearby Miragoâne on 30 March 2005 and handed over to the police, but that was for an unrelated reason.
We are aware of the enormous challenge that the reconstruction of an honest and effective judicial system represents in Haiti. This process will not be able to take place if Lindor's murder remains unpunished. It means, as we stressed in our letter of 31 March, that the truth of the case of Radio Haïti Inter director Jean Dominique, who was murdered in Port-au-Prince on 3 April 2000, must also be brought to light. The solving of these two cases is a necessary part of the restoration of the rule of law in Haiti.
I look forward to your response,