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The week in review

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 5, 2002


TEMPLE TERRACE PASTOR ACCUSED OF TORTURE -- Since coming to the United States from Haiti in 1995, Hebert Valmond has become an influential member of Tampa's thriving Haitian community. He became a pastor, opened his own church and bought a home in an upscale neighborhood.

But on Monday, immigration officers armed with a deportation order arrested Valmond. They say he participated in the 1994 torture and massacre of two dozen peasants in his homeland.

Valmond, 52, of Temple Terrace, was a lieutenant colonel in the Haitian army. In 1998, a Haitian court issued a warrant for his arrest in the killings at the seaside community of Raboteau.

He moved to Florida in 1995, records show, and married a U.S. citizen.

According to published reports, Valmond was a high-ranking member of the paramilitary government for former Haitian dictator Raoul Cedras.

Under Cedras' command, Valmond and dozens of others allegedly raided Raboteau, an extremely poor community 93 miles north of the country's capital city, Port-Au-Prince, in April of 1994. The military forced their way into homes, tortured people, forced some to lie in open sewers and killed them, reports said.

All of the people killed were supporters of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the country's current president. In 2000, 22 Haitians -- including Cedras and Valmond -- were tried in absentia. Valmond was found guilty of murder, torture, destruction of homes and other crimes.

Valmond was taken to the Sarasota County Jail, where INS officials were proceeding with deportation orders. Brother-in-law Emmanuel Revolus, refuses to believe that Valmond was involved in the attack.

"We grew up together," said Revolus, who lives in Tampa. "I know him as a good man." And he warned that if Valmond is deported to Haiti, the ruling government will almost certainly kill him.

MOFFITT LAUNCHES HOPE LODGE -- A 40-suite lodging facility will open next to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in early June, providing cancer patients and their families a free place to stay while undergoing treatment.

Called the Hope Lodge, the 47,000-square-foot building is the latest in a network of nationwide facilities offering free board under the direction of the American Cancer Society.

The $8.4-million lodge will join 18 others around the country, including two in Florida. Moffitt's Hope Lodge has four floors, with one floor set aside for bone marrow transplant patients, whose depleted immune systems require a more sterile environment. The 11-suite floor, unique to this lodge, will mesh well with Moffitt, which runs the largest bone marrow program in the Southeast and one of the biggest in the nation.

The facility, which also is open to patients from area hospitals, will run on a first-come, first-served basis. The pool of patients is huge, and directors anticipate the facility to operate at full capacity throughout the year. According to the cancer society, an estimated 70,000 patients from outside Hillsborough County annually receive cancer treatment in Tampa.

The free lodging will relieve an often stressful monetary burden, said Donald Webster, chief executive officer of the society's Florida division. Patients pay for their own lodging at hotels or apartments. Although Moffitt offers apartments near the center, the monthly rent of about $1,000 puts another hit on patients' pocketbooks.

DEADLY WATER SCOOTER ACCIDENT IN LUTZ -- A 30-year-old man was found dead in Crenshaw Lake on Monday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Keith T. Rosenberger was found in water off 3605 Little Road. A water scooter was floating nearby, authorities said. No foul play is suspected.

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