Ex-Haiti prosecutor Claudy Gassant dies in Dominican Republic

Claudy Gassant, a previous investigative choose in Haiti billed with acquiring out who killed Jean Leopold Dominique, a popular journalist and outspoken critic, is lifeless in the Dominican Republic.

A former best govt prosecutor who was once forced to flee Haiti for Miami in dread for his lifestyle is dead.

Claudy Gassant was found lifeless Saturday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where by he a short while ago experienced been dwelling. The discovery came on the exact same working day Gassant was envisioned to be in South Florida for a conference on Haiti’s widening insecurity. His loss of life was explained as suspicious.

Smith Augustin, Haiti’s ambassador to the neighboring place, mentioned Gassant’s loss of life was confirmed by the Countrywide Section of Investigations (DNI).

“Police are in the home investigating they are seeking to see if it was suicide or a homicide,” Augustin explained to the Miami Herald.

Previous Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who spoke with Gassant usually, claimed he will skip the jurist.

“We’ve misplaced in a spectacular way, a single of our most savvy professionals on penal strategies. He was secretary of point out for justice in my governing administration, but I will pass up the friendship and the smart discussions I consistently had with him on how we could be practical to Haiti in addition to involvement in politics.”

Frantz Exantus, who served as secretary of state for communication in Haiti, said he was devastated by the news of his mate.

“Integrity, courageous and proficient. He has constantly demonstrated himself in just about every situation he has held,” Exantus wrote on his Fb web page, adding that “an unbiased investigation is essential.”

A higher-profile lawman, Gassant initially rose to fame in Haiti as the investigative decide tasked with acquiring out who murdered agronomist-turned-journalist Jean Léopold Dominique and a security guard on April 3, 2000. Equally adult men were being gunned down in the courtyard of Dominique’s Radio Haiti-Inter station in Port-au-Prince.

At the time a supporter of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas Spouse and children party, Dominique had turn into an outspoken critic on the airwaves. Twenty-a person many years after his assassination, his murder continues to be unsolved.

In Haiti, an investigative choose capabilities comparable to an American grand jury. Just after staying assigned the scenario, Gassant frequently complained about threats on his lifestyle and walked close to the ministry of justice accompanied by intensely armed security. In a 2001 interview, he told the Miami Herald that he feared for his lifestyle simply because impressive persons in Aristide’s govt may possibly be implicated in the murders.

“The government is versus me, the legislative is from me, and the judiciary, also,” he reported at the time. “I’m so scared I really do not know of whom to be scared.”

Right after shelling out various decades in South Florida, Gassant would return to Haiti, the place he served in the government of the late President René Préval and was tasked with rooting out corruption. But his clashes with the law enforcement and some others frequently overshadowed the career and manufactured some uneasy with his methods.

One notorious episode ended with Gassant abruptly resigning his publish as the country’s best prosecutor but not right before Préval was forced to step in as referee. The resignation, which Gassant would validate to the Herald, arrived just times after declaring in a press convention that the only way he would depart his submit as Port-au-Prince district legal professional is if he ended up fired.

The resignation was the last episode of a weeklong drama in between Gassant and a Petionville police commissioner, Frantz Georges. It unfolded during a July weekend at a konpa tunes pageant immediately after Gassant and a stability guard acquired into an argument when Gassant was refused re-entry into the celebration.

Upset, Gassant ordered a gun look at at the live performance and the jailing of the stability company operator on prices of owning an unlawful firearm.

In new a long time, Gassant experienced served as the head of Haiti’s anti-corruption unit beneath President Jovenel Moïse, whose July 7 assassination stays under investigation. Gassant experienced left the authorities by the time of Moïse assassination.

Gassant was appointed by Moïse as director basic of the Device for the Battle From Corruption on November 29, 2019 and fired 50 times following his Dec. 3, installation.

He realized of his firing on social media soon after it was declared that the president experienced appointed a new director, Rockefeller Vincent, who is nowadays Haiti’s existing justice minister. The anti-corruption unit also used one of the suspects, Joseph Felix Badio, sought by Haitian police for questioning in the president’s murder.

On Saturday, Gassant had been scheduled to be in South Florida at Florida Intercontinental University, where he was to sign up for many other Haitians for the meeting. The meeting was structured by customers of the Haitian diaspora.

Jacqueline Charles has noted on Haiti and the English-talking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for more than a 10 years. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her protection of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.