Haiti judge de­clines charges against US aid worker

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

PORT-AU-PRINCE: An Amer­i­can aid worker has been re­leased from a no­to­ri­ously over­crowded Haitian prison af­ter a judge ap­par­ently cleared him of al­le­ga­tions that he kid­napped an in­fant from a hos­pi­tal where he worked as a vol­un­teer. Paul Wag­goner was re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment Wed­nes­day at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion fol­low­ing his re­lease from the Na­tional Pen­i­ten­tiary in Port-au-Prince, Ma­te­ri­als Man­age­ment Re­lief Corps, the aid group he co-founded af­ter the Jan. 12 earth­quake, said in a state­ment on the group's Web site. Ear­lier, his sup­port­ers had feared he could get cholera or some other ill­ness in a prison that has long been crit­i­cized by hu­man rights groups for its abysmal con­di­tions.

The group said a judge de­clined to bring kid­nap­ping charges against Wag­goner. Haitian ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties could not be reached for com­ment. Wag­goner's lawyer, Gary Lisade, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Wed­nes­day that he had sub­mit­ted to a judge in the case a death cer­tifi­cate from the hos­pi­tal where the in­fant he was ac­cused of kid­nap­ping had died. He also gave the court an af­fi­davit from the Amer­i­can doc­tor who treated the 15-month-old boy. "We are so glad it's fi­nally over," Paul Se­bring, the other co-founder of the group, said in a state­ment, de­scrib­ing con­di­tions at the prison as "hor­rific."

Wag­goner, who was liv­ing in Nan­tucket, Mas­sachusetts, be­fore sell­ing his con­struc­tion busi­ness and mov­ing to Haiti fol­low­ing the earth­quake, had been in cus­tody for 18 days while au­thor­i­ties in­ves­ti­gated the al­le­ga­tions of Frantz Philistin, a Haitian man whose in­fant son was treated at a hos­pi­tal in Pe­tionville in Fe­bru­ary. Se­bring and oth­ers said Wag­goner was help­ing to move sup­plies at the hos­pi­tal and was not in­volved with the treat­ment of the baby. The doc­tor said in his af­fi­davit that Philistin de­clined to take the body, say­ing he couldn't af­ford to bury it, Se­bring said. Se­bring said that Ma­te­ri­als Man­age­ment Re­lief Corps would con­tinue its work in Haiti. -Ap

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