Salem Radio Network News Saturday, January 29, 2022

World

Colombian detained in Haiti alleges torture by police, lack of food

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) – A former Colombian soldier detained in Haiti for allegedly participating in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise says he and 17 others are being held in inhumane conditions and suffering torture by Haitian police, without access to legal council.

More than 40 people, including 18 Colombians, have been detained as part of the investigation of Moise’s July killing. It has made little apparent progress and has been riddled with irregularities.

“We are in a twenty first century concentration camp. We are dying slowly,” a man, who identifies himself as one of the detained but does not give his name, said in an audio recording shared with Reuters.

Although the man’s mother confirmed the voice on the audio belongs to her detained son, Reuters could not independently verify its origin, nor conditions at the prison.

Neither the director general of the Haitian police nor a spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment.

Colombia’s foreign ministry said it was giving humanitarian assistance to those detained through its embassy in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Colombia has previously called for the men to be held in better conditions and given legal council.

Though many family members and former colleagues say the men were hired as bodyguards, not killers, Colombian President Ivan Duque has said some knew of the assassination plan.

“Please help us, help us, pressure the Haitian government to free us… We don’t even have a lawyer, we don’t have contact with our families, we don’t have money,” the man says in the audio. “We are here among rats, amidst human excrement.”

In the audio, also published by local media, the man says the detained are given just one meal of rice a day.

“All of the statements given to the judicial police occurred under torture,” the man said. “They have burned us with acid, they have used machetes on our bodies, they have pulled out our fingernails, they have broken our teeth with kicks.”

The man’s mother – who asked that neither she nor her son be named for fear of reprisals – said Colombia must urgently ensure legal aid.

“They are torturing them, they are leaving them without food, they will let them die of hunger,” she said.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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