UPDATE #1. Thursday, December 18, 2014 (AlterPresse). The hearing about the assault on journalist Gerdy Jeremie by UDMO paramilitary policemen Alex Ceus and Jean Daniel Erickson was finally held on Thursday, December 18, 2014 in a civil courtroom in Jacmel, Haiti, with many journalists, southern UDMO chieft Frantz Elbe, and a crowd that spilled out onto the street, ready to mobilize. The hearing lasted more than 10 hours, and the judge, Mr. Monique Jean, accepted the exhibits. The verdict will be announced in January 2015. Gerdy Jeremie’s lawyer, Franck Lauture, says he expects a guilty verdict and an award of damages.
By Dady Chery
Journalist Gerdy Jeremie, a member of Jacmel’s Radio Tele Express newsroom and correspondent for Haiti’s online news site AlterPresse was savagely beaten on Monday, November 10, 2014 by two members of the Haitian National Police’s Departmental Unit for Maintenance of Order, UDMO (l’Unité départementale de maintien d’ordre). The assault on the 29-year old journalist occurred while she was covering a protest by moto-taxi drivers who were objecting to a large increase of their registration fee for 2014-2015.
According to Ms. Jeremie, as the police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas, UDMO agent Alex Ceus (aka Arly) ordered her to leave, and she answered: “I am doing my work. I’m not in your way.”
Ceus then pushed her several times, after which he was joined by another agent, Jean Daniel Erickson, who began to hit her in the head and chest. There were several witnesses to the attack and she had to go to a hospital for treatment.
Ms. Jeremie brought charges against Alex Ceus and Jean Daniel Erickson for the attack. Ceus had already been charged with beating another journalist in 2014.
On Thursday, November 27, 2014, Gerdy Jeremie was still in pain from her beating when she appeared at the criminal court of Jacmel for a hearing about the case. She was accompanied by her lawyers Franck Lauture and Jean François Annibal Coffy, local supporters, and a delegation of about 30 journalists.
The defendants failed to appear to respond to the charges. Instead, the departmental director of Jacmel’s police, Frantz Elbe, showed up and read a letter from Ceus and Erickson that requested a postponement and stated that they could not be present because their lawyers were unavailable.
Rather than declare their culpability because of their failure to appear, the judge rescheduled the hearing for Thursday, December 11, 2014 at Jacmel’s Criminal Court. In a highly irregular move, the Dean of the Court, Robert Cadet, requested a dismissal of the case, although his role should have been strictly limited to the appointment of a judge.
All parties in the case came to the court on Thursday, December 11, 2014, but the hearing did not take place because Dean Robert Cadet had ordered the premises to be shut down. The defendants, together with their boss, Frantz Elbe, immediately left.
Those who had come to support Gerdy Jeremie included some of her relatives who denounced attempts at their intimidation, journalists dressed in black for the occasion, a group of moto-taxi drivers, and Jacmel residents. The population erupted in spontaneous protest and blocked several streets to expose the Dean’s collusion with the police and call for a proper hearing.