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Lawsuit filed against Massachusetts man for alleged warcrimes committed in Haiti

[JURIST] The Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) [advocacy website] filed [CJA case summary] a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday in the US District Court of Massachusetts against former Haitian Mayor Jean Morose Viliena alleging he committed crimes against humanity in Haiti between 2007 and 2009. Viliena is currently a resident of a Boston suburb. The lawsuit was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 [text, PDF]. The act allows civil actions to be filed in the US against individuals who subject others to torture or extrajudicial killings under authority of a foreign nation when remedies in the location of the conduct have been exhausted. CJA filed the lawsuit on behalf of three Haitians, David Boniface, Nissage Martyr, and Juders Yseme. The case alleges that in July 2007, David Boniface had denounced Viliena in court, and Viliena and his militia then murdered Boniface's brother later that night in retaliation. Martyr and Yseme worked on a community radio station in the city. In April 2008, the case alleges that after Viliena announced he was shutting down the radio station, Viliena and his supporters invaded the station and shot both Martyr and Yseme. Martyr had to have one of his legs amputated due to the injuries and Yseme became blind in one eye. Viliena was indicted for murder in 2010 in Haiti, but authorities there have not prosecuted him.

Numerous Haitian officials have previously faced trials in the United States for various crimes. In January, former Haitian coup leader Guy Philippe plead not guilty [JURIST report] in US court to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. In February 2014 an appellate court found that Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier who ruled the nation for 15 years, could be charged [JURIST report] with crimes against humanity committed during his reign in the 70s and 80s. Former president of Haiti Jean Bertrand Aristide has also been charged [JURIST op-ed] with committing several crimes, centering on allegations of corruption, criminal conspiracy, money laundering and misappropriation of funds.

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