With the Adjournment sine die of Guy Philippe‘s trial, a Pandora box is opened


 

 

 

With the Adjournment sine die of Guy Philippe‘s trial, a Pandora box is opened.

 

Four months after his arrest in Port-au-Prince by a contingent of the Haitian Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (French acronym BLTS,) Guy Philippe, the senator elect of the Grand’Anse region, has pleaded guil ty to charges against him in a criminal indictment by a Federal court in Miami. This spectacular event oc curred suddenly after the Haiti-observateur had published in its last issue (April 19, 2017) that an “exemplary verdict” awaited the former high ranking Haitian Police officer if he persisted in claiming innocence. By plea d ing guilty, Philippe con tradicts those who egged him on in arguing that he was arbitrarily and illegally arrested. The admission of guilt automatically results in confessions which, no doubt, will lead to de nun ciation of accomplices and other individuals engaged in illicit activities of which he is aware. Needless to say, Guy Philippe has opened a Pandora‘s box.

 

Indeed, in his first appearance last January 6 before a federal judge, Guy Philippe had pleaded not guilty. Strongly encouraged by his friends, allies and “collaborators” in Haiti, he clung desperately to his belligerent attitude, denouncing the arbitrariness he had been subjected to by Federal authorities. Initially, manipulated by politicians and individuals close to the underworld, Philippe thought his defense should be carried out on political ground. After all, he was an elected senator in Haiti, except that he was nabbed four days before he was sworn in. So, neglecting to launch a solid defense, he had hired lawyers deemed inexperienced in drug trafficking and money laundering cases. But when the Federal authorities in formed him of the overwhelming evidence gathered against him, he had to rethink his defense strategy. By the end of March, and following the appointment of the eminent Al len Ross as his defender, the Se na tor-elect began to see the case differently. Through sources clo se to Philippe, it was learned that on re viewing the file, Mr. Ross suggested that a strategy diametrically opposed to that followed to date be advocated.

 

For him, plea bargaining be tween Federal prosecutors and the defense was the order of the day, a prerequisite for avoiding decades of imprisonment. For weeks, Philippe was mul ling over the implications of changing his initial plea. In the end he became aware of his predicament. Here he is, isolated in a prison cell and at the mercy of the federal justice system which has overwhelming evidence against him, while his supporters and friends in Haiti keep encouraging him to stick at all costs to his initial decision of last January 6. Un derstandably, the advice from his friends on the outside is rather self serving, because they fear the eventual consequences for themselves if he were to plead guilty. Such a plea based on an agreement between the prosecution and the defense makes Guy Philippe a privileged witness for the Federal Justice system. Accordingly, he would be subject to interrogations during which he will be obliged to denounce collaborators who were taking part in the unlawful activities along with him, or of which he has some knowledge.

 

Indeed, in a press release issued Monday (April 24) by the US Department of Justice, via the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the new arrangements made by the American authorities to combat illegal activities in all areas are reported. In clear language, the various

Federal agencies that conducted the investigation of Mr. Philippe, which culminated in his guilty conviction, assert that they are still at work continuing the fight against the scourges of cocaine trafficking, money laundering and other illicit activities. The indefinite postponement of Phillippe’s trial means that he remains at the disposal of Federal authorities to “inform” about crime in general. Ordinarily, when a personality of Guy Philippe’s stature is so involved, he’s pumped constantly about some wanted individuals. And he’s oblig ed to spill the beans about what he knows, enabling the prosecution to beef up their documentation on their eventual prey. Mind you, these interrogation sessions are conducted without the assistance of a defense lawyer. Such is the protocol covering the convicted person and the justice system.

 

Thus, it‘s a safe bet that with the outcome of the Guy Philippe affair, the fight that the Americans are leading against illicit trafficking in and through Haiti will be reinvigorated. For the revelations made and to be made by the Senator-elect of the Grand’Anse will facilitate the completion of numerous cases that were still hanging for lack of solid evidence to corroborate them. For instance, a drug dealer known as such may still escape indictment, because Federal agents may be reluctant to have him arrested by the Haitian Anti-Drug Trafficking Police without reliable witnesses to present at his trial. In the American Embassy press release, there is mention of the role played by banks in Haiti and Ecuador in helping Guy Philippe transfer funds, even to the United States. In other words, some dirty money was laundered by those banks. Obvious ly, the banks in question have transgressed international laws on money laundering. It’s fair to say that the Guy Philippe guilty plea must cause some panic in several quarters. For the network of the former Army commander turned high-level Police officer is a wide one.

Anyway, faced with decades behind bar on his being condemned on the evidence, the Senator-elect had no choice but to do his outmost

to substantially reduce his sentence. In doing so, however, he has opened a Pandora box with far reaching consequences.

Editorial Haiti-Observateur

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