National Lawyers Guild
October 29, 2008
By Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel Toto Constant was sentenced today in Kings County Supreme Court in New York, by Judge Abraham Gerges, on mortgage fraud charges. According to the Sentencing Memorandum, the full sentence should be between 12 and 37 years. It is not yet clear how much of the sentence he is likely to actually serve under New York's prison practices.
The next battle in the fight for justice for Mr. Constant's victims may be convincing the U.S. government not to return Mr. Constant to Haiti until the Haitian justice system has demonstrated that it can effectively prosecute him.
Mr. Constant's sentencing is a victory for everyone who has suffered from his crimes, especially the victims of his FRAPH death squad in 1993 and 1994. It is a victory by a broad and determined group of people: the victims who filed complaints and testified against him in Haitian and U.S. courts, the activists who kept this case on the radar screen, the journalists who wrote about it, the lawyers from CCR, CJA and BAI who pursued the cases, and the Haitian and New York justice systems that ultimately convicted Constant.
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"Your interest and support has been a great encouragement to us at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."
-- Desmond Tutu on the Guild's work in South Africa