[Translations of two articles, the first by Spanish news agency Efe as published in El Observador of Montevideo on May 9, the second from El País of Montevideo for May 11. See originals here and here and related articles here, here, here and here.]
Haitian youth who denounced rape by Uruguayan marines to testify in Montevideo
Haitian Johny Jean, who accused five Uruguayan blue helmets of abusing him sexually last year in Haiti, will travel to Uruguay on Tuesday to testify before the judge in charge of the case.
The director of the [Haitian] Reseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH – National Network for the Defense of Human Rights), Pierre Espérance, confirmed the trip, in which a member of that organization will take part in order to observe Jean’s testimony before the Uruguayan court, planned for Thursday afternoon.
He stressed that this observation mission is of special interest because “it is the first time that the judicial system of a member country of the United Nation Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) has agreed to carry out such a process.”
Until now, “there has always been total impunity for members of MINUSTAH,” he added. He also said that the RNDDH wants to insure that Johny Jean’s rights are respected and that he can make his statement “without pressure, under conditions of respect and dignity.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release stating that since the moment the denunciation was filed, “it has taken all the necessary measures leading to clarifying the facts, determining responsibility and imparting justice.” It declared that procedures were initiated in both the military justice system and Uruguayan common penal law.
The chancellery stated that Jean’s trip to Montevideo was arranged through an offer by Uruguay, which made available to the plaintiff the possibility of giving testimony through a videoconference or by having the presiding judge, Alejandro Guido, and the prosecutor travel to Haiti.
“Through his lawyers and the Haitian foreign ministry, Jean stated his preference for traveling to Uruguay and appearing personally at the trial, the date of the hearing being set by the competent judge and the Haitian parties as May 10, 2012”…
Haitian youth identifies his aggressors
By P. Meléndrez and E. Barreneche
Haitian youth Johny Jean testified formally yesterday before criminal trial judge Alejandro Guido and prosecutor Juan Gómez that last year Uruguayan marines, who were in his country as part of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), abused him sexually at a military base in the city of Port Salut.
The Haitian youth, who arrived in Uruguay on Wednesday and will return to his country today, testified throughout the afternoon yesterday before judge Guido and prosecutor Gómez.
During his testimony, Jean was accompanied by his mother, four lawyers (two from the United States, one a Haitian and one an Uruguayan) and a psychologist from the Instituto Técnico Forense (ITF).
After stating and confirming that he had been raped, Jean’s defense lawyers asked that his mother offer testimony as a witness. She said that after the episode she noticed changes in her son’s behavior.
Judge Guido then arranged for confirmation of identities, in which Jean recognized four of the five marines who allegedly raped him, sources told El País.
The youth’s legal team introduced a medical report performed in Haiti which indicates that the young man suffered an anal lesion. Nevertheless, an examination conducted yesterday by order of the judge did not find any physical damage.
Jean was also subjected to a psychological examination by an expert from ITF. Although it had been proposed, there was in the end no face-to-face meeting between the Haitian and the marines, since it was granted that there was no purpose for it, prosecutor Gómez said after he left the courtroom.
All the judicial activities required the participation of two translators: one of them translated Jean’s statements from Creole (a dialect spoken derived from French spoken in Haiti) to French and another from that language to Spanish.
In the hearing yesterday, Jean was accompanied by four lawyers: two, Edwin Marger and Mike Pugliese, from the United States and one, Pierre Espérance, from Haiti. By order of judge Guido, public defender Bernardino Real was also present since the foreign lawyers are not authorized to exercise their profession in Uruguay.
Upon leaving the court room, the Haitian youth’s foreign lawyers indicated that the video is conclusive and, in their view, it is clear that there was a rape. “They ruined his life. They humiliated him and his life will never be the same,” Pugliese said.
“They used force against him and they are laughing. It is terrible; I am a former policeman, I have been a lawyer for 20 years and I have never seen anything so brutal against a youth in my whole life. It turns my stomach,” Pugliese added.
Marger, meanwhile, said, “The images are clear and the sound is frightening.” “The rape is seen in the video. He is thrown face down on a bed, his pants are at his feet, his arms are being held behind his back by two soldiers. If you can’t see what is happening on this video, you are not watching television,” he stated.
The United States lawyer added that even though the marines claim that it was a “joke,” in reality there was in fact an assault against the young Haitian. “It is not a joke for Uruguay, it is not a joke for Haiti, and it is certainly not a joke for Johny,” he said.
Asked about a possible claim for damages, Marger stated that first the criminal investigation has to be settled and then “after a year or two” thoughts of a civil suit. In any case, the lawyer confirmed that the idea is to claim five million dollars.
On the othere hand, Gustavo Bordes, who together with his colleague Gastón Chaves represents the accused marines, told El País that after the hearing yesterday, “the flagrant contradictions were clear” in Jean’s testimony, which leads to his charges being “unsustainable from every point of view.”
Asked about the contradictions in Jean’s testimony, Bordes chose not to give details because they are elements that can be used by the defense.
Edwin Marger, one of the Haitian youth’s lawyers, is a prominent citizen of the United States with close ties to Haiti since for decades he was the lawyer for dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who ruled the country from 1957 until his death in 1971. He is currently aiding his son, Baby Doc, who inherited power when he was 19 years old and ruled for 15 years, until he was overthrown and charged with crimes against humanity.
Marger’s legal practice is in Jasper, Georgia.
Demonstrations against MINUSTAH at the doors of the court room
Throughout the afternoon yesterday, in front of the court room where Johny Jean gave his testimony, located on Mercedes Street, near Ejido, members of Uruguayan social organizations demonstrated, calling for an end to the Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), deployed in that country in 2004.
With chants and signs against MINUSTAH and in support of Jean, the demonstrators greeted the young Haitian when he arrived at the court room at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Among those present, who amounted to some 30, were the labor leader of the UTU (Universidad del Trabajo del Uruguay), Andrés Olivetti, radical activist Irma Leites and former soccer players brothers Diego and Eduardo Jaume.
Rony Joseph, a 26-years-old Haitian living in Uruguay, where he is a student of international relations, raised his voice yesterday against MINUSTAH.
In broken Spanish, Joseph said that the United Nations mission is present in Haiti but does not help in the real betterment of the country.
“The Haitian people live in poverty and the UN spends millions of dollars to keep troops of occupation in Haiti,” he said. He added that “the propaganda claims that the UN is doing serious things in Haiti and that is not true. We can go to Haiti and see how the people live in extreme poverty.”
According to Joseph, “The people are demonstrating peacefully against a government and the UN says it is necessary, for world peace, to repress the black people.”
“But in Haiti people demonstrate in the street because they are hungry, not just because they feel like it. The UN does not go to the source of the problem,” he remarked…