Last Friday Judge Yvickel Dabresil accused nine persons – several of whom were close to former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide – of being involved in the 2000 murder of well-known journalist Jean Leopold Dominique. At the time, Dominique was openly critical of Aristide’s re-election, Reuters said.
The 69-year-old journalist and director of Radio Haiti-Inter – the country’s first independent radio, which broadcasted in Creole instead of French, like the rest of the country does – was gunned down along with a security guard at the radio station in Port-au-Prince.
Journalism organizations Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and S.O.S. Periodistas called for all resources to be used in order to bring Myrlande Luberisse, a former senator of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, to justice. According to Judge Dabresil’s report, Luberisse was the mastermind behind the order to kill Dominique. “The authorities in the United States, where she now resides, should authorize her extradition if required,” RSF added.
In the 14 years since Dominique was killed, seven different judges have worked on the case. Any ruling could still be appealed at the country’s Supreme Court.
Haitian journalist Guyler Delva, who heads a committee that investigates crimes against journalists, said he was surprised that Aristide wasn’t included in the conspiracy accusation. He told the Miami Herald that if Luberisse – the person who allegedly received the order to orchestrate the crime – is accused, the person who gave the order should also be implicated.
However, Michele Montas, Dominique’s widow, said this is an important step. “The Appeals Court finally has a report from the judge, almost 14 years after Jean Dominique’s death.” Montas asked that the accused be arrested and taken to justice, newspaper El Confidencial reported.
Among the accused are former senators Luberisse and Harold Severe, who is also the former mayor of the Haitian capital. The others are Annette Auguste, Franco Camille, Merite Milien, Dimsley Milien, Toussaint Mercideiu, Jeudi Jean Daniel and Markington Michel. Several of them, like Severe, were previously arrested in connection with the case, but were set free or escaped prison. According to Reuters, most of them live outside the country.
Before his death, Dominique spoke out against corruption cases and abuses of power in the Fanmi Lavalas party, headed by Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest. Dominique had been firmly opposed to the Aristide’s re-election in 2001.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.