Monday, September 12, 2005

Two journalists arrested by masked police in Haiti

Two journalists have been detained by The Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) on suspicion of "disrespect to a magistrate'' and resisting arrest, according to Guardian Unlimited. American journalist Kevin Pina was arrested for filming a masked SWAT team serving a warrant to conduct a weapons search at St. Claire's Church; AP journalist Jean Restil, a Haitian citizen, was detained by police as he tried to photograph Pina's arrest. Pina is in extreme danger as he has been accused of striking judge Peres Paul - a charge he denies.

St. Claire's is the church of imprisoned activist cleric Father Jean-Juste, a a supporter of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and potential Lavalas party candidate for president which makes him a thorn in the side of the US-backed Haitian regime.
Pina and Restil are being held in a small cell with approximately 7 other men. Pina was able to give the following description of events:

"We went to cover the PNH search of Fr. Jean-Juste's church for guns. The police were clearly initmidating the boys in the presbytery. I have an open invitation from both Fr. Jean-Juste and the priest who has been conducting the feeding program while Jean-Juste is in prison to come to the church as I please.

"When both Jean and I arrived the judge of instruction supervising the police operation began screaming at me, saying that I was a foreign terrorist and with Lavalas. He told the police to take my camera, which I would not let them do. I told them that before they did anything else I wanted to see a representative of my embassy. They then handcuffed me and put me in the back of a police car. Now the judge claimed I hit him. I have been covering Haiti since 1989 and I have never raised my hands to anyone in authority, and would never do so." [Haiti Action]
More info from CN Todd at The UnCapitalist Journal & Freiheit und Wissen.

Previously at DF - Haiti: all tears & frustration but no (US) remorse

UPDATE: Ristil was released early Monday and Pinil was released just after 5 PM (having endured 3.5 hours of interrogation)

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