Haiti judge rec­om­mends 10 U.S. mis­sion­ar­ies de­tained on kid­nap­ping charges be re­leased

Cape Breton Post - - Classifieds - BY FRANK BA­JAK

for the de­tainees while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues. But it wasn’t clear whether their pos­si­ble release means they would be al­lowed to leave Haiti, or what im­pli­ca­tions the judge’s de­ci­sion could have on whether the charges may be dropped.

By mid­day Thurs­day, Saint-Vil had yet to de­liver his for­mal rec­om­men­da­tion to the pros­e­cu­tor.

Gary Las­sade, an at­tor­ney for one of the Amer­i­cans, said he ex­pects the judge will rec­om­mend the case be dropped — though the pros­e­cu­tor could also ap­peal that rul­ing.

The Amer­i­cans, most from an Idaho Bap­tist group, were charged last week with child kid­nap­ping and crim­i­nal as­so­ci­a­tion af­ter be­ing ar­rested Jan. 29 while try­ing to take 33 chil­dren, ages 2 to 12, across the bor­der to an or­phan­age they were try­ing to set up in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

The fol­low­ing day, group leader Laura Silsby of Merid­ian, Idaho, told the AP that the chil­dren were ob­tained ei­ther from or­phan­ages or from dis­tant rel­a­tives. She said only chil­dren who were found not to have liv­ing par­ents or rel­a­tives who could care for them might be put up for adop­tion.

How­ever, at least 20 of the chil­dren are from a sin­gle vil­lage and have liv­ing par­ents. Some of the par­ents told the AP they will­ingly turned over their chil­dren to the mis­sion­ar­ies on the prom­ise the Amer­i­cans would ed­u­cate them and let rel­a­tives visit.

Drew Ham, as­sis­tant pas­tor at Cen­tral Val­ley Bap­tist Church in Merid­ian, said Thurs­day that the judge’s rec­om­men­da­tion is en­cour­ag­ing but it’s too soon to cel­e­brate with the de­tainees still in cus­tody.

“It’s a good sign,” Ham told the AP. “But we still don’t have con­fir­ma­tion of their release.”

On Wed­nes­day, from be­hind cell bars in the stuffy, grimy jail where they have been held, the mis­sion­ar­ies re­fused to be in­ter­viewed.

“ We’ve said all we’re go­ing to say for now. We don’t want to talk now,” Silsby said. “Maybe to­mor­row.”

The women were held sep­a­rately from the men, who shared their cell with nine Haitian men, some of whom played check­ers on the cell floor.

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