Police recapture two men charged in Jean Dominique murder

New York, August 11, 2004—More than seven months after escaping from the Port-au-Prince National Penitentiary, two of the men charged in the April 2000 killing of prominent journalist Jean Léopold Dominique have been recaptured.

Dymsley Millien was arrested August 1 in Port-au-Prince, and Jeudi-Jean Daniel was captured August 8 in the southern city of Jacmel, the Haitian press reported. Philippe Markington, who is also charged in the murder, is still on the run after escaping from the penitentiary January 1 by breaking through a wall with a group of prisoners that included his co-defendants.

The long-stalled Dominique murder case has been revived somewhat in recent months, after the February 29 departure of Jean Bertrand Aristide and the establishment of a transition government. Many had accused the Aristide government of failing to pursue the true killers.

In March, authorities arrested former Port-au-Prince deputy mayor Harold Sévère and security agent Rouspide Pétion for alleged involvement in the slaying, The Associated Press reported.

And on July 1, the Haitian Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Daniel, Millien and Markington, a decision that allowed proceedings to resume after being blocked in court for almost a year. The ruling opened the door for the nomination of a new examining judge, who will conduct another investigation.

CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said the recent captures are a positive sign, but Haitian authorities must do much more.

“Four years after Jean Dominique’s murder, the crime remains unsolved,” Cooper said. “We call on Provisional Prime Minister Gerard Latortue to ensure that the many impediments encountered thus far in the investigation are finally overcome so that authorities can bring the masterminds of the crime to justice.”

Jean Léopold Dominique, 69, the outspoken owner and director of the independent station Radio Haïti Inter, was shot dead by two unknown gunmen, who also killed the station’s security guard, Jean Claude Louissaint.

Shortly after 6 a.m. on April 3, 2000, Dominique arrived at Radio Haïti Inter to host the 7 a.m. news program. After Louissaint opened the gate to the station’s premises, which are along the road from Port-au-Prince to the suburb of Pétionville, Dominique parked his car. As he was about to enter the radio station, gunmen entered the compound on foot and shot him seven times. The gunmen then fired two shots at Louissaint before escaping in a Jeep Cherokee that had been waiting for them outside the compound.

The assassins were said to have been spotted near the station before Dominique’s arrival, although their weapons were not visible at that time. Minutes after the attack, Dominique’s wife, Michèle Montas, arrived at the station in a separate car and found the wounded bodies of her husband and Louissaint. Both victims died of their wounds in the Haitian Community Hospital in Pétionville.

After questioning more than 80 suspects and ordering six arrests, examining judge Claudy Gassant left Haiti for the United States in January 2002, saying he had received inadequate protection from threats. One person questioned in the probe was former Famni Lavalas party leader Dany Toussaint, who was sharply criticized in an October 1999 Radio Haïti Inter editorial.

On March 21, 2003, Judge Bernard Saint-Vil, who replaced Gassant, sent a 33-page indictment to prosecutor Josué Pierre-Louis accusing Millien, Daniel, Markington, Ralph Léger, Ralph Joseph, and Freud Junior Desmarattes of the killing.

On April 3, Montas appealed the indictments, saying that the investigation into her husband’s killing was “incomplete,” and that the indictments “failed to charge the masterminds behind the murder.” On August 3, the Court of Appeals ordered a new investigation into the murder and released three of the six accused of perpetrating the killing: Desmarattes, Léger, and Joseph.