A large arms cache including an M-14 rifle, lots of camouflage uniforms, a fragmentation grenade, and other military materiel and equipment has been seized by the police in Port-au-Prince. According to Judicial Police Inspector-General Michael Lycius, the police also found pictures of presidential candidate Guy Philippe at the house. Lycius also spoke about the increase in kidnappings in the capital and urged the U.N. troops to seek new strategies to deal with the problem. The following is an excerpt from live telephone interview with Inspector-General Lycius by Rotchild Francois; from the “Morning Newscast”, broadcast by Haitian Metropole radio on 8 December; subheadings inserted editorially:
(Announcer Rotchild Francois Jr) As announced in the newscast a while ago, the national police carried out an operation in a house located on Delmas 63 this morning and discovered some arms and ammunition. (Changes to Creole) We now have Judicial Police Inspector-General Michael Lycius on the phone, and he is going to give us more details about this situation. Good morning, Inspector Lycius. Can you explain to us what really happened there in that house on Delmas 63?
(Lycius) First of all, I must say that it was not at all easy to get to this place. It is located in a neighbourhood that is really difficult to get to. According to reporting that we had, we were able to carry out the operation with the help of the SWAT Team and the Central Management of the Judicial Police (DCPJ). Actually, we discovered an enormous quantity of weapons of all calibres. We found an M-14 rifle, lots of camouflage uniforms, a fragmentation grenade, and other military materiel and equipment.
(Francois) You mean you found a lot of weaponry?
(Lycius) We have found hundreds of weapons of various calibres.
(Francois) But you found only one M-14?
(Lycius) Yes, an M-14, which is a weapon of war.
(Francois) Is it in good condition?
(Lycius) Yes, it is an automatic weapon that is operational.
(Francois) I have heard that the police did not make any arrests. Did you find out who this house belong to?
(Lycius) The house belongs to somebody called Herby (Dumay). Actually, we arrested two people but, unfortunately, Dumay managed to escape as soon as we got there. The configuration of the house facilitated his escape. He actually created a space especially for this purpose. (Passage omitted on allegations Dumay was a member of the Grenn Sonnen gang and was recruiting for the so-called “National Security Military”.)
(Francois) So, is he a former soldier?
(Lycius) We still need to find out if he is a former soldier although we have a list of names with addresses and people’s identification numbers on it.
(Francois) Inspector Lycius, we have also heard that the police have found pictures of presidential candidate Guy Philippe in that house. What can you tell us about that?
(Lycius) Yes, we found a lot of pictures of this candidate in this house. But as of now, I am not able to accuse this candidate of anything until an investigation is carried out to reveal the relations between this candidate and Dumay. It is true that there are a lot of pictures of this candidate there but I cannot say much about it now. It is possible that Dumay is just a supporter just as he could be a member of the Front for National Reconstruction (FRN). We will have to wait for the results of the investigation into this arsenal that was discovered on Delmas 63 this morning.
(Francois) So, you said that the police found one M-14 and lots of ammunition for Galils, and so on?
(Lycius) We found hundreds of ammunition for M-14 type rifles, hundreds of ammunition for Galils, T-65s, and guns. We also found one fragmentation grenade and lots of camouflage uniforms, and so on. What I would like to point out is that this is part of the generalized insecurity that we are now facing in Port-au-Prince. When you consider that all these munitions are kept in the house of someone with no authorization to be in possession of these things, someone who is not part of any legal institution, nobody could ever imagine such a situation even if this individual were a police officer. So, you can imagine what can happen if somebody like that is selling weaponry to bandits in areas such as Cite Soleil, Bel-Air, and other areas. Actually, this is a kind of business. He is not the only one involved in these types of dealings. We have lots of information on similar cases. This is the reason why I talked about the need to change our strategy in terms of the fight against kidnapping and criminality in Port-au-Prince. I said at the time that we were going to target the suppliers whatever their social rank and wherever they may be. (Passage omitted)
(Francois) Just before you go, Inspector Lycius, we would like to ask you a question about the kidnapping situation. We have noticed a certain resurgence of the kidnapping situation in Port-au-Prince. It has in fact become more serious now. This has been terrible for some time but now the situation is very complicated. What is going on now?
(Lycius) We never thought that we would be able to resolve the kidnapping issue in one go. We made a lot of efforts in this direction. We arrested a lot of people. But maybe we did not think that it could start again with such an acceleration now. But we know that as long as the problems of lawless zones such as Cite Soleil and Gran’Ravin are not resolved then we will always have to face the kidnapping issue. For, the bandits find refuge in these areas. They feel secure in these places. First of all, in order for us to combat criminality in the country, the Cite Soleil and Gran’Ravin issue must be dealt with first. The other thing that explains this increase in kidnapping is because we are in the period of the end-of-year festivities. All the bandits and criminals need money to spend to enjoy themselves. The third reason is that the elections are approaching. So, this means that there are a lot of expectations. Here in Haiti, elections always carry unforeseen and unpredictable situations. So, these are all the elements that explain the kidnapping situation. But as I said, the DCPJ is studying new strategies. We are also going to work with the private sector on exchanging information. As I always said, the reason why there are so many kidnapping cases is because the kidnappers have communication resources. This is maybe one of the consequences of the new communication technology. All the bandits and criminals now have cell phones. So, the police too will need to have the support of the cell phone companies. The police are going to work with the cell phone companies so that they can make information on certain customers available to them. We are going to ask these companies to have complete IDs with pictures of their customers. In short, we are working with the cell phone companies on this issue and the provisions that should be made in this regard. Another thing is that there are a lot of people whose cell phones were stolen. Although they report it to the cell phone companies asking them to disable the stolen phones, the companies take time to do so. Then the bandits are able to use these phones when committing crimes. So, there are a lot of things that explain the increase in crimes in Haiti. It is not a simple thing. Anyway, we are working with all the concerned entities to see how we can at least reduce the number of crimes.
U.N. troops must adopt new strategies
(Francois) Tell us what is going on with the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), because kidnappers in Cite Soleil take their victims to the area whereas we know that there are a lot of MINUSTAH troops stationed in that area.
(Lycius) As you know, MINUSTAH has a lot of issues to deal with. They cannot speak the language and they are not familiar with this kind of situation either. For example, we work with kidnapping victims that tell us that the exchange of money for the release of kidnapping victims often takes place just a few metres, six to seven metres, from the MINUSTAH troops. For instance, we have a police officer who told us that bandits were trying to kidnap him and they stole his vehicle. He told me that this incident occurred at exactly six metres from the MINUSTAH troops. The problem is that the MINUSTAH patrols in the area are not mobile. I agree that these foreign soldiers do not speak the language. But they should be able to understand and interpret gestures at least. If you see someone in the area is receiving a black plastic bag or an envelope, for instance, and see some movements somehow, then the troops should be suspicious. At least, this is a police reflex, and when we are in such a situation, we soon know that something is going on and react. I think that the MINUSTAH troops have helped a lot, and we must recognize that. But they should adopt other strategies to confront the kidnapping issue.
(Francois) Thank you very much, Inspector General Lycius, for clarifying the Delmas 63 situation and the kidnapping issue.
(Lycius) Thank you, Rotchild, and have a nice day.