News

Former Haiti rebel leader jailed for nine years in the US

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


FLORIDA, United States (AP) — A former Haitian rebel leader and recently elected member of the Senate in the Caribbean country was sentenced to nearly a decade in prison yesterday after accepting a plea deal that spared him a life sentence for drug trafficking.

Guy Philippe declined to speak as he was sentenced to nine years by US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga for money laundering and ordered to forfeit US$1.5 million. His lawyers portrayed the sentence as a good compromise for their client.

“The Government compromised their position by dismissing the more serious charges,” said defence attorney Alan Ross. “We compromised our position by giving up our pretrial motions, by pleading guilty and by not going to trial.”

Defence attorney Zeljka Bozanic said the agreement did not require Philippe to cooperate in any investigation of other Haitian officials, as some in Haiti have speculated.

“I know there are people in Haiti who like to spin things and that there are politicians in Haiti who like to spin things,” Bozanic said. “However, I can tell all those politicians that Mr Philippe is not cooperating. He's not snitching on anybody. He's not a snitch“.

Philippe, 49, admitted in court in April that, as a police commander in the city of Cap-Haitien, he accepted between US$1.5 million and US$3.5 million from drug smugglers from 1999 to 2003. Prosecutors say Philippe and other police officers took the money in exchange for ensuring safe passage for cocaine shipments from Colombia and other countries that went through Haiti on their way to Miami and other US destinations.

In 2004 Philippe led an uprising that ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was indicted along with several others on US drug charges in 2005, but managed to elude capture for more than a decade, including at least 10 attempts to arrest him in Haiti that involved a military operation and a foot chase through the countryside.

Philippe was elected to the Haitian Senate in November. He was arrested by Haitian police while giving a live radio interview in the capital of Port-au-Prince in January and whisked immediately to the US, prompting angry protests in his stronghold in south-western Haiti.

Altonaga rejected his claim of immunity as an elected Haitian official. The judge noted even if immunity applied, Philippe had not yet been officially sworn in.

A small group of protesters holding photos featuring a photo of Philippe with current Haiti President Jovenel Moise at a campaign rally, were outside the court in downtown Miami hoping for a longer sentence.

“He should get life in prison,” said Toto Kompere, leader of a community group that supports the party of Aristide. “So many families are crying because of him.”

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT