MIAMI, USA, February 26, 2007 – Former member of the Haitian Military’s High Command, Colonel Carl Dorélien, has been ordered in absentia to pay a total of $4.3 million to torture victims Lexiuste Cajuste, Marie Jeanne Jean and her two young children.
A federal jury in Miami Friday found Dorélien liable for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity suffered by the plaintiffs.
Cajuste had testified how he was arbitrarily detained and severely tortured by Haitian military forces under Dorelien’s command because of his role as a union organizer and pro-democracy activist.
He survived the beatings but told jurors that fourteen years after the ordeal, he still suffers severe physical disabilities relating to his torture.
Responding to the verdict, the former trade unionist stated, “Today I have finally found justice, but I am only one person amongst an entire population who suffered abuses. My wish is to see that all the people of Haiti receive justice.”
Jeanne Jean lost her husband Michel Pierre during the massacre by the Haitian military against the citizens of the Raboteau neighborhood in the seaside city of Gonaives. Raboteau was known for being a stronghold of pro-democracy activism. The Raboteau massacre was one of the worst atrocities committed against the civilian population in Haiti while Dorélien was part of the High Command. “Today is a proud and happy day. This judgment is not just for me and my family, but for all of the many victims of the Raboteau Massacre. It is in their name that I am here in Miami today,” she added after the verdict.
Colonel Dorélien was a member of the High Command of the Haitian Armed Forces during the military dictatorship in Haiti from 1991 to 1994. Dorélien’s presence in the U.S. became widely known after he won $3.2 million in the Florida state lottery in 1997. Dorélien, along with many other members of the Haitian military, fled to the U.S. where they lived with impunity. This case represents the first time that a U.S. jury has held a former member of the Haitian military responsible for the widespread human rights abuses that were committed by the military against the civilian population.
The case was brought against Dorelien on behalf of the two Haitians by the Center for Justice and Accountability and Holland & Knight. CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization that works to end impunity by bringing to justice perpetrators of human rights abuses, especially those who live in or visit the United States. (Copyright Hardbeatnews.com)