PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — President of the National Assembly, Youri
Latortue, has denied any involvement in the arrest and extradition of rebel
leader turned politician, Guy Phillippe, after a voice recording
surfaced here implicating him in the matter.
In a statement, Latortue said that he was “surprised to learn that the elected
Senator of Grand’Anse, Guy Philippe, would put him responsible for his
extradition to the United States”.
But he said that he “unreservedly denies the presumptions made about
any role he played in this”.
Phillippe, 48, was elected as a Senator for the Grand’Anse district in the
November 20 legislative and presidential elections last year.
But he was arrested and extradited to the United States last month where he
has since pleaded not guilty to charges of drug smuggling and money
laundering. The charges carry a maximum life prison sentence.
Political observers here said Philippe was arrested while he did not yet have all
the immunities conferred on him as a result of his election victory.
Article 114 of the Constitution stipulates that “Members of the Legislative Body
are inviolable from the day of taking the oath until the expiry of their term of
office, subject to the provisions of Article 115.”
According to the tape recording of a telephone conversation with an unidentified
person, Latortue and four members of the Lavalas party have been implicated
in the “conspiracy” leading to Phillippe’s arrest.
President of the National Consortium of Haitian Political Parties, Jeantel Joseph,
said the voice on the recording belongs to Phillippe.
But Latortue said that he would not engage in a debate on the issue “especially
since the case in question seems to be much more complex than one would like
He said that manipulating an imprisoned person “is horribly dishonest” and that
the action of those involved in peddling the rumours “demonstrates the cynicism
of certain actors, who are supposedly well-meaning”.