JULY 14, 2005
Posted: September 2, 2005

Jacques Roche, Le Matin


Roche, cultural editor with the Port-au-Prince-based daily Le Matin who was kidnapped on July 10, was found dead four days later in a slum in Haiti’s capital. His body was handcuffed, riddled with bullets, and mutilated, according to international press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the murder to determine whether it was related to Roche’s work..

The journalist was taken from his car in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Nazon, the Haitian press reported. Roche, who was also a poet, hosted a local television station show for the organization Group of 184, which led calls for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s resignation in 2004. His captors demanded US$250,000 in ransom, The Associated Press said.

According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the kidnappers who initially took
Roche later sold the journalist to another gang that wanted him dead for sympathizing with the Group of 184. “It’s not clear the motive behind Jacques’ murder,” the Florida daily reported.

On July 21, Haitian authorities arrested Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and figure in the Lavalas party of ousted President Aristide. Authorities accused him of involvement in Roche’s slaying. The priest was jailed but not immediately charged.

Aristide supporters said the priest’s detention is politically motivated. Amnesty International labeled Jean-Juste a “prisoner of conscience.”

Over the past year, Haiti’s capital has been plagued by a wave of violence and abductions. The AP reported that more than 700 people have been killed in Port-au-Prince, including 40 police, during unrest over the past 10 months.

Local journalists have limited their movements in response to the pervasive climate of lawlessness.