Roche, cultural editor with the Port-au-Prince-based daily Le Matin, was kidnapped on July 10 and 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 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 184 Group, a coalition of civil society organizations that opposed former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. His captors demanded US$250,000 in ransom, The Associated Press said.
The St. Petersburg Times reported that the kidnappers who seized Roche sold the journalist to a gang that wanted him dead for sympathizing with an anti-Aristide group. Franck Séguy, a colleague at Le Matin, told CPJ that there is wide speculation that Roche may have been killed because of his television work for the 184 Group.
Judge Jean Peres Paul, who is charge of the investigation, told CPJ that three suspects had been identified and faced preliminary charges. He said he couldn’t comment on the possible motive or disclose the identities of the suspects. Published reports said that on July 21 Haitian authorities arrested the 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 was politically motivated. Amnesty International labeled Jean-Juste a “prisoner of conscience.”