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Victory over impunity "within reach" in Lindor murder, says RSF, after seven are convicted in absentia

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF hopes the authorities will quickly arrest the seven people who were convicted in absentia on 23 January 2008 of the 2001 murder of Radio Echo 2000 journalist Brignol Lindor, so that light can be shed on every aspect of this crime. Two other people were already sentenced on 12 December 2007 to life imprisonment for the murder.

"This particularly barbaric murder remained unpunished for many years, but justice finally began to be done at the end of 2007," RSF said. "This effort must be pursued so that the case can be definitively closed. As was to be expected, the seven suspects did not surrender themselves by the deadline set by the court. The police and judicial authorities must now do everything possible to arrest them. Victory over impunity is within reach."

The guilty verdict was handed down by Emmanuel Tataye, the chief judge of Petit-Goâve, the town where Lindor was stoned and hacked to death on 3 December 2001. The seven persons convicted were Maxi Zéphyr, Bernard Désamour, Tyrésias (also known as Téré), Fritznel Duvergé, Mackenzi, Belony Colin and Fritznel Doudoute (aka Lionel or Nènèl).

Originally indicted in 2002, they were all identified as members of an armed militia known as Domi nan Bwa ("Sleep in the Bush") that supported former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Judge Tataye ordered the confiscation of all their property and assets, and the suspension of their civil and political rights.

Of the four defendants who appeared in court in the December 2007 trial, two were convicted and given life sentences: Joubert Saint-Juste and Jean-Rémy Démosthène. One of the other two, Simon Cétoute, 56, was acquitted because it emerged that he had been arrested instead of his son, who had the same first name and who had recently died in the nearby town of Léogane.

And it emerged that the fourth defendant, Fritzner Doudoute, was mistaken at the time of his arrest for Fritznel Doudoute, one of the seven who has just been convicted in absentia. Fritzner Doudoute was not named in the 2002 indictment or in the arrest warrant issued in 2007. Nonetheless, witnesses identified him in court on 10 December 2007 as one of the people who participated in Lindor's murder. He has therefore remained in detention and is to be the subject of a new judicial investigation.

A judicial investigation could also be opened against Bony Dumay, Petit-Goâve deputy mayor at the time of the murder, who is alleged to have incited violence against Lindor on the eve of his murder. Dumay appeared as a witness in court on 10 December 2007.

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