Crime & Justice

US reaffirms fight against violence in Haiti, charges gang leader with kidnapping

Port-au-Prince, Oct 25 (EFE). – The United States is determined to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence in Haiti, according to a statement released Wednesday by the US embassy in Port-au-Prince, following the indictment of a gang leader for his alleged role in the kidnapping of two Americans, one of whom was murdered.

The indictment filed in the District of Columbia by the US Attorney’s Office accuses Haitian Vitel’homme Innocent, leader of the Kraze Barye gang, of ordering the kidnapping of Jean Franklin and Marie Odette Franklin from their home in Haiti on October 7, 2022.

Members of the gang entered the home that day and attempted to forcibly abduct the couple, but Marie Odette Franklin was killed.

Her husband was kidnapped and remained in captivity for more than two weeks, during which time Vitel’homme Innocent would have been involved in demanding a ransom in exchange for his release.

Finally, on October 28, 2022, Jean Franklin was released after his family paid the ransom.

On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Haiti posted on its social media accounts the US State Department’s message about the charges against Vitel’homme Innocent,

“The US continues to seek justice for Vitel’Homme Innocent & those who perpetuate violence against the Haitian people & US citizens,” said Brian Andrew Nichols Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on X.

“This action marks our latest step to promote accountability for those who attack, rape & murder innocent Haitians. Gangs have no place in Haiti,” he added.

US Attorney Matthew Graves for the District of Columbia, said in respect to the case “We remain steadfast in our mission to hold those responsible for violent crimes committed against US citizens in Haiti.

“The gangs and gang leaders in Haiti must be held accountable for their atrocities committed against innocent civilians. We will utilize all methods at our disposal to apprehend and prosecute those who commit such heinous act,” he added.

According to a statement from Graves, Vitel’homme, a fugitive living in Tabarre, Haiti, faces additional charges in Columbia related to his alleged role in the kidnapping of 16 US citizens in the fall of 2021, for which he is being prosecuted.

If convicted, the leader of the Kraze Barye gang could be sentenced to life in prison or even the death penalty.

Already in the fall of 2022, the US State Department announced a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to Vitel’homme Innocent. EFE


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