Law

Haiti’s police Chief vows to arrest former Haitian leader

Godson Orelus
Godson Orelus

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) – Haiti’s police, Godson Orelus, who appeared Thursday before investigating judge, Lamarre Belizaire, gave the guarantee that the police will execute the arrest warrant issued against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, accused of corruption, embezzlement of public funds, illicit drug trafficking and money laundering, among other charges, police sources told HCNN on Friday.

Judge Belizaire had called the Commander in Chief of the police for questioning about the delay in the execution of arrest warrants issued, several weeks ago for the Caribbean country’s ex-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and several other suspects targeted by the criminal investigation.

The attitude of the police was considered by judicial authorities, as a refusal to comply with judges’ orders.

However, a member of the High Command of the Haitian National Police told HCNN on Friday that Chief of Police, Godson Orélus, has taken, during his hearing at the judge’s office, the commitment to make sure that the arrest warrant issued against Aristide, as well as those issued against other individuals, are executed.

“The Director-General of the Police, Commander Orélus, has taken, before the judge, the firm commitment to bring former president Aristide before him, pursuant to the warrant ,” a high ranking police officer, who requested anonymity, told HCNN on Friday.

“And this will happen in a not too distant future, because the chief of police, law-abiding, cannot refuse to comply with orders issued by the competent authorities,” said the police source, explaining that details were being taken care of for the execution of the warrant.

Police officials say they hope that Aristide, as a former Head of State, will cooperate with the police, but “anyway, the warrant will be executed, since it is a requirement of the law.”

The Minister of Justice, Jean-Renel Sanon, in charge of the police, called last week, former President Aristide to “honor the invitation of the judge if he wants to contribute to the improvement of the judicial system of his country “, while the Minister of Communication, Rudy Hérivaux, said Thursday that no one was above the law, while suggesting to Aristide, without naming him, to “have trust in the justice of his country”.

However, Hérivaux has insisted that President Michel Martelly and the government of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have no intention to interfere with cases which are being dealt with by judicial authorities who are exercising freely their legal powers.

Aristide, who is supposed to be wanted by the police, is not on the run. It is common knowledge that Aristide is practically living in seclusion in his private residence in the Tabarre district, outside the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Former President Aristide and dozens of his former allies – banned from leaving the country – are accused of being involved in serious acts of corruption, illicit drug trafficking, money laundering and misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars from the public treasury, between 2001 and 2004, when Aristide was in power.

A judicial source told HCNN on Friday that the proceedings engaged against the former leader, at judge Belizaire’s office are  divided into 3 folders, including one regarding charges of illicit drug trafficking and money laundering. The second folder concerns the misappropriation of public funds, while the third one has to do with funds extortion and bribery.

The same source explained that Judge Belizaire’s investigation, for now, was mainly focused on the acts of illicit drug trafficking and money laundering, blamed on former President Aristide and a number of his close allies.

Aristide’s supporters called proceedings against the former leader, political persecutions. But the Minister of Justice, Sanon, denied such allegations, arguing that the criminal investigation into the administration of Aristide, was initiated in 2005, while President Martelly took office in 2011.

Aristide, through his lawyers, has recently challenged judge, Lamarre Belizaire, hoping that he would have automatically suspended the proceedings against him. However, the judge, who says he still in possession of the case, decided to continue his investigation and to maintain conservatories and coercive measures, including the arrest warrant, already taken as part of the investigation.

A dozen arrest warrants were issued in connection with this case. Judge Belizaire has already heard several former associates of ex-President Aristide, including former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister, Henry Claude Ménard.

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