[News] Haiti's former PM Neptune freed from prison after 2 years

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 28 11:31:15 EDT 2006

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Haiti's former PM Neptune freed from jail
Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:06 PM ET

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon 
Neptune was freed on Thursday from the prison where he was held for 
more than two years on what he called imaginary charges after the 
ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Frail from an on-and-off hunger strike, the 59-year-old walked out of 
the National Penitentiary annex supported by two U.N. peacekeepers. 
They helped him into an ambulance that took him to a U.N.-run 
hospital for a checkup.

Neptune was never tried and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

"It's not freedom yet," he told Reuters as he left the prison. "The 
machinery of injustice didn't stop with my release today. The 
laboratories that invented those kind of imaginary crimes are very strong."

Human rights groups had repeatedly called on Haiti to free Neptune, 
who was arrested in June 2004, a few months after the populist 
Aristide gave up the presidency in the face of a bloody rebellion.

Neptune was detained on accusations he masterminded what Aristide's 
opponents called a massacre on February 11, 2004, in La Scierie, a 
small village near the western port city of St. Marc. U.N. 
investigators characterized the incident as an armed clash with 
casualties on both sides.

An appeals court ordered Neptune's release on Thursday and he was 
escorted from the prison amid heavy security shortly afterward.

Brian Concannon, a U.S. lawyer who has campaigned for his release, 
said he believed Neptune had been freed on humanitarian grounds.

"This is very good, but he's only been provisionally released. The 
charges haven't been dropped," Concannon said.

"An appeal of the charges is before the appeals court in Gonaives. 
The prosecutor has recommended charges be dismissed because they are 


Neptune served under Aristide and was among hundreds of Aristide 
supporters jailed by a U.S.-backed interim government after Aristide 
was driven into exile.

He said he had been on a hunger strike for the past 15 months, 
consuming only liquids. Neptune expressed reservation his release was 
unaccompanied by a declaration absolving him of wrongdoing. He said 
he bore no hatred toward those who put him in prison but would 
continue to fight for justice.

"At a certain age, one should not be fighting for himself anymore. In 
such cases he would be selfish," he said as he left the prison.

"I am fighting for generations to come. ... The Haitian people show 
that they know what freedom means, and they will continue to fight 
for freedom, freedom not just for a few but for all."

The order for his release was made public a day after Neptune talked 
to reporters from his cell. He said then the government of President 
Rene Preval, who took office in May, would be partly to blame if he 
died while in prison on charges he called false and politically motivated.

Among the hundreds of Aristide supporters jailed by the interim 
government on vague charges, Concannon said only a few had been released.

"There haven't been mass releases. There's been a trickle. I'd say 
maybe 10 have gotten out," he said.

Preval said recently about 100 had been released.

Haiti's jailed former PM scolds new president
Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:48 AM GMT


By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Haiti's former Prime Minister Yvon 
Neptune, on a hunger strike, said on Wednesday the new government 
would be partly to blame if he died while imprisoned on charges he 
calls false and politically motivated.

"I am a political prisoner. Whether I get out of jail dead or alive 
will be on the government's decision," Neptune told journalists from 
his cell at the National Penitentiary annex.

"My case has nothing to do with justice," he said. "It's up to the 
government to free me."

Neptune, who has been on a hunger strike for some 15 months but was 
taking liquids, appeared exhausted. He wore a blue T-shirt and beige 
shorts, and lay on a small mattress on the floor with two pillows 
under his head.

He said his arrest in June 2004 was a political decision by 
U.S.-backed interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and former Justice 
Minister Bernard Gousse.

He served under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was driven out 
in February 2004 during an armed rebellion. Neptune was detained on 
accusations that he masterminded what Aristide's opponents called a 
massacre on February 11, 2004, in La Scierie, a small village 60 
miles (95 km) north of Port-au-Prince.

Neptune has repeatedly denied the accusations and has never been 
tried. He complained that the international community that once 
championed his case had abandoned him.

"I used to see many diplomats from the U.S. State Department and 
others, but I don't see them anymore," he said.

Neptune accused the administration of President Rene Preval, who took 
office in May, of continuing the "reign of injustice."

He said the new administration would bear part of the blame if he 
died in prison because Preval has the constitutional authority to 
grant amnesty.

"When you know what to do to prevent an innocent from dying in jail 
and you refuse to do it, you will become an accomplice in the death," 
said Neptune.

Preval, who was elected in February, said earlier this week that 
efforts were being made to free Neptune but did not provide further detail.

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