Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haitian Death Squad Leader Sentenced

Congratulations to the Center on Justice and Accountability for their work on this case.

Dear Friends of CJA:

Today, Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, a CJA defendant found liable for torture, attempted extrajudicial killing and crimes against humanity as the leader of Haiti's notorious death squad FRAPH (Revolutionary Front for the Advancement of the Haitian People), was sentenced to 12 to 37 years in prison for his role in a criminal mortgage fraud scheme in New York.

The fact that Constant will now serve between 12 and 37 years in prison is a direct result of CJA and our allies bringing Constant's role as a human rights abuser to the court's attention.  The judge specifically mentioned Constant's role as a human rights abuser at sentencing.

In May 2007, CJA and co-counsel the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) intervened in the mortgage fraud case when CJA learned that attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the New York State Attorney General's office were going to let Constant plead to one to three years and receive credit for time served in order to expedite his deportation to Haiti.  We felt strongly that Constant's role as a human rights abuser should be brought to the court's attention and that he should not be deported to Haiti where his presence would likely further destabilize the country.

CJA and CCR worked quickly to submit a series of letters, affidavits and testimony to the court which detailed Constant's record of human rights abusers as well as information about problems in the Haitian judicial system.  Based in part on these submissions, the judge threw out the plea agreement stating, " the [human rights] allegations, if true, are heinous, and the court cannot in good conscience consent to the.. negotiated sentence ...[or] .. time served, as that would be a travesty."

Constant decided to go to trial rather than plead guilty to a higher sentence; on July 25th he was found guilty of all six felony counts against him.

Constant's sentencing is a huge victory for the thousands of victims terrorized by FRAPH and for our ongoing effort to ensure that the U.S. is not a safe haven for human rights abusers.  Finally, CJA would like to thank the New York Attorney General's office for their role in bringing Constant to justice.

Sincerely,

Pamela Merchant
Executive Director

bh

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