Originally: Jean-Juste held in murder probe

A Roman Catholic priest and former Miami activist who has emerged as the leader of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s party was being held by police Friday for questioning in the slaying of a journalist.

Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste was detained because protesters at the funeral Thursday for Jacques Roches accused him of being behind the murder, said judiciary police chief Michael Lucius. He said the protesters’ cries constituted a ”public clamor,” which under Haitian law justifies an investigation of Jean-Juste.

The former Haitian rights activist was mobbed and punched by an angry crowd as he arrived at Roche’s funeral Thursday, saying he intended to ”co-celebrate” the Mass. Police took him to a police station, initially for protection, but then for questioning.

Jean-Juste’s American attorney, Bill Quigley, told supporters in Miami via telephone that the priest had been jailed, although no formal charges were presented against him. ”They gave us no other information,” he said. “Our next step is to try to locate him.”

Lavarice Gaudin, executive director of Veye Yo, a pro-Aristide group in Miami, said he spoke to Jean-Juste by phone Friday morning and was told that an ”organized gang of people” started throwing rocks at the priest.

”They are charging him with participation in the murder of Jacques Roche, which happened July 15,” Carolyn Thompson, co chair of the Haiti Solidarity Committee, told a news conference at Veye Yo’s Little Haiti offices. “That’s not possible if he was in Miami on the 15th.”

Roche, was kidnapped July 10 in Port-au-Prince for a $250,000 ransom, and was found dead July 15.