MIAMI, Florida, USA (sentinel.ht) – Appearing at his arraignment Friday, Guy Philippe, leader of the 2004 Haitian coup d’etat, plead “not guilty” to a federal indictment on drug-trafficking and money laundering charges.
Supporters of Mr. Philippe, who was elected Senator of the Grand’Anse and was due to be sworn in 2 days before his arrest, amassed outside the federal courthouse in Miami. 250 others protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Both groups are calling for Mr. Philippe’s release.
The arrest which took place on January 5, 2017 outside of Radio Scoop FM in Port-au-Prince is being characterized as a kidnapping by sympathizers of the Haitian rebel. Definitive understanding of the circumstances of the arrest have yet to be shared with the public.
Mr. Philippe’s supporters, in politics and in civil society have conflated the arrest as a unilateral operation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Haiti. This has spurred hostile reactions, even from Guy Philippe’s long-time rivals, such as former Senator Jean-Charles Moise who criticized the arrest and extradition.
For others, among them, those in the human rights community, have welcomed the arrest and deportation of Guy Philippe. “One less bandit in the Haitian Parliament,” said Pierre Esperance of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH). Other international human rights organizations have accused the former police chief, Philippe, of overseeing extra-judicial executions.
Nathalie Philippe, the wife of Guy Philippe, had originally launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money, $40,000 [USD], for his defense team but it was taken down twice since first launching.