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Threats force Haiti radio station off air

By DAVID ADAMS, Times Latin America Correspondent
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 23, 2003

One of Haiti's most respected independent radio stations, Radio Haiti Inter, decided to take itself off the air Saturday after complaining of constant threats.

The station's owner and one of the country's most prominent journalists, Jean Dominique, was murdered by gunmen outside the station in April 2000. The station's caretaker also was killed in the hail of bullets.

Dominique's widow, award-winning journalist Michele Montas, has continued to run the station while also pushing to have the killers brought to justice. Montas' bodyguard was killed on Christmas Day last year when armed men attacked her home.

"We have lost three lives . . . and we refuse to lose another," she said in a statement broadcast before going off the air. "We don't know exactly when we will go back on the air."

The Dominique murder investigation has become a test case for Haiti's weak justice system. Charges were drawn up last year by an investigating judge against a leading politician with ties to the ruling Lavalas Family Party of president Jean Bertrand Aristide. But no arrests were made and the judge fled the country after receiving death threats.

Hollywood film director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) recently completed a documentary about Dominique's life, The Agronomist, which is showing this week at the Miami International Film Festival.

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