PORT-AU-PRINCE — The Haitian National Police have not regained control of Haiti’s main courthouse two weeks after armed bandits invaded the building in a brazen confrontation with security. Following the attack, the government prosecutor had requested a police escort for the legal proceedings and to reclaim the building.
“I am still waiting for the National Police response to decide,” Jacques Lafontant, chief prosecutor told The Haitian Times.
In a letter dated June 15, Lafontant addressed a letter, dated June 15, to Serge Allen Jolicoeur, Director of the West Police Division, DDO, requiring two armed tanks and police escort to access the premises and report the exactions of the bandits.
No response or attemps from the DDO yet to arrest the bandits and secure the court’s building, for more than a week now.
During a June 10 invasion, members of the “Five Segonn” gang shot a security guard as they rushed the property, broke open its windows, vandalized the judges’ courtrooms and seized court files, eyewitnesses said. The gang, based in Village-de-Dieu and led by a man who goes by Izo, also made off with several commissioner’s vehicles. Judges, lawyers, litigants and prisoners narrowly escaped injury or death. This is the fourth attack on the courthouse since May.
“It’s a shame, the hihgest court house in the country is taken hostage by gangs,” Martin Ainé, president of the National Association of Haitian Registrars, ANAGH told The Haitian Times.
Ainé reported that the bandits have burned files and stolen a large safe used to keep important files, weapons seized and other potential evidence.
ANAGH believes losing the main judicial safe further complicates trials files’ processing and that will bring the judicial system to total chaos if authorities do not act quickly.
Secretary of Interior and Defense, Liszt Quitel confirms that bandits do not occupy the court of first instance, there is police surveillance in the area.
“We will strengthen security in the area so citizens can resume their activity.” Quitel said.
The Human rights organization Je Klere Foundation (FJKL), had reported in an assessment that during the armed attack a person was shot and wounded, seven vehicles were stolen as well as computers, desks and chairs.
Judicial activities have not resumed in the country’s highest courthouse. Court services such as legalization of documents, complaints, authorization of the public prosecutor, receipt of requests and correspondence have been temporarily transferred to the court of the southern section of Port-au-Prince, Lafontant said in a June 15 statement.
“Even if we can revive the files, it remains critical to proceed with several ongoing trials in the court because bandits took away many pieces of evidence,” Ainé said.