Haiti: Martelly opponents charged with murder

On Aug. 27 Haitian investigative judge Lamarre Bélizaire ordered the arrests of four people—two brothers, a well-known lawyer and a police agent—for the Oct. 18, 2010 murder of the student Frantzy Duverseau at his Port-au-Prince home. The judge's action immediately sparked accusations of political interference by the government of Haitian president Michel Martelly ("Sweet Micky"). The two brothers charged in the killing, Enold and Josué Florestal, are plaintiffs in a suit accusing Martelly's wife, Sophia Martelly, and his son, Olivier Martelly, of corruption; the Florestal brothers have already been in prison for about a year. Their attorney, André Michel, is also charged in the murder case. Judge Bélizaire—whose other cases include the inquiry into allegations of corruption and drug trafficking during the second administration of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004)—is said to be close to Martelly's government.

According to Frantzy Duverseau's family, the October 2010 incident began with a domestic violence case. Enold Florestal reportedly assaulted Fabienne Duverseau, his wife; her brother Frantzy intervened, and Florestal was injured. Florestal then brought the police to the family home, along with his brother Josué and their attorney, André Michel. One of the police agents shot Frantzy Duverseau dead when he resisted arrest; Judge Bélizaire's warrant names the agent as Jeanco Honorat. In a Sept. 2 report, Haiti's independent National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) detailed problems with Bélizaire's investigation, including the failure to search the scene, to conduct a ballistics analysis and to establish which of the accused were charged as material authors and which as accomplices. The report concluded that Bélizaire's arrest warrant "constitutes a vast joke." (Haitian-Caribbean News Network, Aug. 28; AlterPresse, Sept. 5)

In other news, French groups in solidarity with Haiti and Latin America held a meeting with Haiti's designated ambassador to France, Vanessa Matignon, on Aug. 28, to discuss the case of Haitian police agent Jean Matulnès Lamy, who has been held in the National Penitentiary without charges since February. Lamy is a resident of Ile-à-Vache, a small island southeast of Les Cayes in South department. Supporters say he was arrested because of his role as a leader in the resistance to the government's plans for tourism development on the island. (AlterPresse, Sept. 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 7.