Jackson Joanis is the name of a former captain in the Haitian Armed Forces who surrendered to the police to be put in jail yesterday for his alleged participation in the murder of businessman Antoine Izmery.
Joanis, former head of the anti-gangs service at the Port-au-Prince Police Department during the three years of the coup d’etat against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was sentenced in absentia for this murder. The former captain, however, says he is innocent and wishes his case to be heard among the cases which will be heard on the occasion of the next session of criminal trials that will take place. Joanis’s statement follows:
“We learned that we were accused of involvement in the murder of Antoine Izmery. As we know that they are going to hear this case in the criminal trials that are going to take place, we think that it is a good opportunity for us to take part in it so that the truth can be known, so that the word of law can be given.
“The police might have been looking for us if we had escaped. We did not escape from jail. We were evacuated for security reasons.
“As I said, when we heard that this case was going to be heard in a criminal court, in the next session of criminal trials which will take place starting August 16, we think that it is an opportunity for us to appear in court so that the truth can be known. If I were guilty of something I would not come. Now, as it is going to take place and I was looking for an occasion like that to go and listen to the word of law, so, I have come for that.”
Q. For his part, lawyer Emmanuel Clairsaint, one of Joanis’s lawyers, says his client has nothing to do with Izmery’s murder. Lawyer Clairsaint accuses the Lavalas government of having hatched all kinds of plots in order to tarnish Joanis’s image. Listen to lawyer Clairsaint’s statements:
“The law says that when somebody was tried and the verdict was not rendered in his presence, this means that he was not heard either by the examining judge or during the trial. However, the law says that in such a case, when the defendant turns up or is arrested, he must be tried. That is the reason why we are here.
“You are going to see. We are going to prove that our client was not part of what they alleged. He was blamed erroneously.
“By the way, as you know how things were done after Aristide’s return in October 1994, the judges did not have the capability to hand down verdicts in compliance with the law. Everything was dictated by the authorities at the time. The time has come now, that is why he has found it appropriate to come here so he can be heard. If he knew that he was guilty or participated directly or indirectly in Izmery’s death, he would not have shown up.”
Q. Are you going to prove that?
A. The role of the lawyer is to prove that his client is not guilty. The entire country has already been informed of the manner in which things were done.”