Haiti judge hears child smuggling case

The Haitian judge in charge of the case of an American Christian group suspected of trying to smuggle 33 children out of quake-hit Haiti said on Tuesday he interviewed five members and will later speak to the other five.

"We interviewed five Americans for several hours at the judicial police headquarters," Judge Isai Pierre-Louis said, adding that he will meet with the other members of the group Wednesday, to decide whether to move forward with the case, and if charges will be filed.

The children were picked up last week by members of an Idaho-based Baptist group called New Life Children's Refuge who tried to take them across the border to the Dominican Republic where they planned to establish an orphanage.

Mazar Fortil, interim prosecutor for the main Port-au-Prince court, said Monday that the group, which is yet to be formally charged, could be tried for kidnapping, child trafficking and a lesser charge of criminal conspiracy.

The case came to light as authorities in Port-au-Prince expressed concern that in the chaos following the January 12 earthquake that leveled the city some Haitian children may have fallen prey to human traffickers or been misidentified as orphans.

 

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