Sat, May 12, 2012 - Page 7 News List

UN peacekeepers in dock as Haitian victim testifies

AFP, MONTEVIDEO

Haitian Jhony Jean, center, escorted by police officers, arrives at a courthouse in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

A young Haitian man who accused Uruguayan troops serving as UN peacekeepers in Haiti of sexually assaulting him last year on Thursday testified in Montevideo before a judge investigating the case.

The scandal erupted in September last year after cellphone video images circulated on the Internet showing the UN peacekeepers sexually assaulting the man, then 18, in the southern Haitian town of Port-Salut.

Six Uruguayan marines were indicted last year on charges of disobeying orders and dereliction of duty. The first charge is punishable by prison terms of four months to four years and the second by up to three years in prison.

The alleged victim, Jhony Jean, gave his deposition to Alejandro Guido, the judge overseeing the investigation. Jean was accompanied by two US attorneys, his mother and a Haitian government representative.

He also came with a translator as he only speaks Creole, the dialect widely spoken across the impoverished Caribbean nation.

“The entire investigation is based on a very brief, fragmented film of poor quality filmed on a cellphone and the testimony of this young Haitian,” said Raul Oxandarabat, spokesman for Uruguay’s supreme court.

Jean’s attorneys said they had proof that the assault took place.

“What they did to this young man is absolutely horrible. ... What I saw in that video turned my stomach,” one of the lawyers, Edwin Marger, said.

“They deny it, I don’t know how they can,” he added.

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