The Jean Dominique Case: Surrounded by Speculation

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
            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.