Haiti: Duvalier Lawyer Called to Defend President's Family from Accusations of Corruption
- Tuesday, September 04, 2012 1:06 PM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - The presidential family called on the services of the defense attorney for former President-for-Life Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Reynold Georges, to defend them from accusations of "usurpation of title and function" and embezzlement by First Lady Sophia Martelly and the president's son Olivier.
The lawyer Reynold Georges held a press conference in his office on Monday where he announced that the first family was prepared to proceed with legal action against attorney Newton Saint Juste, who Georges says aims to destabilize the government.
The lawyer Saint Juste says that the First Lady Martelly and son are managing state funds with 'Aba Grangou', a food program with the purpose of fighting hunger in Haiti, and 'Foutbol pou Chanjman', a project to develop ten sporting facilities throughout the country.
Saint Juste, a young lawyer who made a name for himself when he was the first to call on the United Nations to accept responsibility for cholera in Haiti, refers to Article 217 of the Penal Code concerning the Usurpation of Titles or Functions, which reads:
Whoever without authority will have interfered in public office civil or military, or has done acts of one of these functions, shall be punished by imprisonment of one to three years without prejudice of the penalty of falsity if the act bears the character of the crime.
Speaking in the northern capital district of CitÃ© Soleil, the president's son, Olivier Martelly, who is presented as an adviser to the office for youth and sports initiatives, said that Mr. St. Juste is launching wild accusations against his family without having any proof.
Olivier Martelly claims that the wife of the head of state and himself does not personally manage public funds while announcing the continuation of his operations across the country, promising the people of CitÃ© Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti, a sports facility capable of meeting the expectations of the youth.
With the support of lawyer, AndrÃ© Michel, an activist of the National Progressive Rally (NPDR), Newton Saint-Juste filed a notice to the chief prosecutor of Port-au-Prince, Jean Renel Senatus, for the members of the first family to cease and desist the acts to which he accuses them of; the chief prosecutor did not take any further action.
But the accusing party announced further actions on the alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars. The actions included a complaint that is to be filed to the United States Department of Justice to denounce the use of American taxpayer funds for the personal money of the first family.
With this program, the Government announced its intentions to ultimately have a 50% reduction of hunger by 2016 and an eradication of hunger by 2025. According to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), this project is being achieved by coordinating and implementing international financing.
MINUSTAH reports that the program headed by First Lady Martelly, has a dozen government ministries involved, among them, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MAST), the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development (MARNDR).
Foutbol Pou Chanjman
This program oversees the construction of soccer stadiums with facilities such as basketball courts and playgrounds in each of the ten departments of Haiti and manages their maintenance.
According to the Haiti Press Network , the project coordinator, Olivier Martelly, told the media of obtaining a budget of $5 million [US] for the project.
The funds for these stadiums come from the PetroCaribe fund during the emergency law, enacted after the earthquake of January 12, 2010 to assist earthquake victims. The money was allocated by questionable no-bid contracts by former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to build 10 soccer stadiums throughout the country.