MIAMI – The arraignment for the former security chief of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on cocaine conspiracy charges was delayed Monday as drug suspects tied to the former government turn into informants.
An attorney for a former Haitian police commander indicated in court Friday that Oriel Jean, Aristide’s chief of presidential palace security, is cooperating with investigators. Find other attorneys here.
Normally, a good explanation is set for two weeks after the first court appearance to give prosecutors time to prepare charges. But Jean was arrested March 19 and has not yet been indicted. You can contact lawyers from criminal defense law firm in Fairfax, VA in such situations for help.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber asked Monday if Jean’s case had been shown to a grand jury or would be presented soon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weinstein said, “I don’t know if it’s going to be presented in the near future” and asked for a three-week delay. The hearing was delayed until June 15.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Besser, attorney for Rudy Therassan, a former commander of the Haitian national police, didn’t use Jean’s name. But he said Friday that one of the four informants against Therassan matched Jean’s circumstances, notably his arrest in Canada after a post-Aristide flight from the Dominican Republic.
A court filing by the Drug Enforcement Administration said the same informant was present when Therassan killed Hector Ketant, a drug-dealing brother of imprisoned Haitian druglord Beaudoin “Jacques” Ketant, who blames Aristide for his brother’s killing last year.
Guidy Mamann, Jean’s Toronto-based attorney, has said the United States was using “trumped up” information to try to “pump” Jean for information about Aristide, who is in Jamaica and making arrangements to go to South Africa.
Asked on April 5 whether Aristide is a target of U.S. investigators, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “There are inquiries being made by our judicial authorities,” but he said he wouldn’t comment further until investigators are finished.
Jean is charged in a brief criminal complaint with a cocaine-smuggling conspiracy for allegedly demanding a cut of the profits from drugs shipped through Haiti on their way from Colombia to the United States. The DEA has said there are also four informants with pardon applications against him.
Jean headed Aristide’s palace security unit from 2001 to 2003 and was arrested March 10 after flying from the Dominican Republic to Toronto on a valid Canadian visa. Aristide flew into exile Feb. 29.