February 4, 2010 in Nation/World

Attorney says US Baptists charged in child case

Frank Bajak Associated Press
 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Ten Americans detained in Haiti for trying to take 33 children out of the country after the earthquake were charged with child kidnapping and criminal association on Thursday, their Haitian lawyer said.

Edwin Coq said that a judge found sufficient evidence to file charges against the Americans, who were arrested Friday at Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic. Coq attended Thursday’s hearing and has represented the entire group in Haiti.

The U.S. citizens, most of them members of an Idaho-based church group, were whisked away from the closed court hearing to jail in Port-au-Prince, the capital. One of them, Laura Silsby, waved and smiled faintly to reporters but declined to answer questions.

Coq said that under Haiti’s legal system, there won’t be an open trial, but a judge will consider the evidence. It could take the judge three months to render a verdict, Coq said.

Coq said a Haitian prosecutor told him the Americans were charged because they had the children in their possession. No one from the Haitian government could be reached immediately for comment.

Each of the kidnapping counts carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years in prison.

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