CNN Exclusive: Port-au-Prince, Haiti At the entrance to Haiti’s National Prison in Port-au-Prince, the smell of sewage and food waste permeates the air.
Its proof is the transparent pipe that visitors have to walk on when a liquid compound slides down the street.
The sound of our heads tapping from the quiet guards follows, then a large metal door opens, revealing a courtyard on the other side.
Haitian authorities call them murderers. They call themselves innocents.
“We were useful fools for someone else,” someone told us. But we did not commit this crime. Although detained for more than five months after that deadly night, the men were not formally charged.
Above, a scene of family members bringing food outside the National Prison Prisoners inside.
After several months of negotiations with CNN, he was allowed to enter the prison with paper and pen and told to wait in a wooden hut in the prison yard. Twenty minutes later, five Colombian men, not expecting our arrival, walked towards us in shorts, T-shirts and dark blue crocodile-style sandals, and were unhealthy.
Their message is consistent in an hour-long conversation in their native Spanish they are innocent, they have been tortured and they are set.
Afraid to speak
The five said they arrived in Haiti in June, a month before the massacre, which would turn their lives upside down and destabilize the country’s political landscape.
Promised up to $ 2,700-3,000 a month, they accepted the job. According to the wives of five people and several others who spoke to CNN, they were not paid a single penny.
CTU did not respond to CNN’s earlier requests for comment, and it is unclear whether the company is still in existence.
“We were informed that we were going to provide security for the Haitian presidential candidate,” one said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
In Haiti, they were part of a group of two dozen Colombians who lived together on a campus in the capital, Port-au-Prince, not far from where then-President Moyes lived.
On the night of July 7, the group was loaded into a convoy of vehicles heading from Belarus Road to the Presidential Palace.
Soon the president will be shot. His wife, First Lady Martin Moyes, was seriously injured in the shooting.
CNN repeatedly asked the five detainees for further details, including what happened during the massacre, who was behind it, what their personal involvement was, and what they did a few hours after the murder.
They insisted they were not responsible for the president’s death, but declined to answer further questions or go into details about that deadly morning for two common reasons: first, they have no legal representation at the moment, and second, they fear for their lives.
“We are imprisoned in this prison,” said one. “We have to be here. I’ll shout out everything I know when I get out of here, but when we’ve been here, we’re afraid of revenge.”
“I fear what they will do to me, but what they will do to my family [in Colombia], “Said another.
‘They beat us all’
Shortly after Moyes was assassinated in the early hours of the morning, five people interviewed by CNN exited the same convoy. Many people in the area have filmed their vehicles on cell phone videos.
But they said they did not go far before they were stuffed into a box by Haitian security forces. They were forcibly evicted from their cars and took refuge in a nearby vacant building. A few hours later, they escaped from the back of the building and a steep hill to the Taiwanese embassy.
The detainees allege that the beating began when they were taken into custody.
One of the Colombians was reportedly stabbed several times by Haitian police and several others were shot in the head with a handgun. The others were beaten, one was so brutally beaten that their face would be disfigured, they explained to CNN.
The men said they were kept in an undisclosed location for more than three weeks before being transferred to the notorious National Prison.
“They kept us somewhere else for 25 days, handcuffed us in pairs and we went to the bathroom on the ground floor,” one inmate said.
The men said the beatings were continuous and brutal and that they feared for the safety of their families in Colombia.
“Do you know how difficult it is to show a photo of your family on a cell phone?” Tears welled up in someone’s eyes. “We had to do what they said.”
And what they were told to do was, every man, signed their names in official statements they did not give and wrote in a language they could not read.
“I sat quietly without saying a word and the officer was writing my statement for me,” one said. “He looked at me and wrote more even though I didn’t say anything. They write, and we were quiet.”
He then signed a document written in French with a name, which he did not understand, he said.
All five allege they were forced to sign declarations under duress.
“The real people responsible for this are out of jail. We’re stuck here. We were deceived, structured, deceived,” one said.
Haiti’s National Police did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. When asked about allegations of torture in police custody, a spokesman for the Haitian federal government said the government had “nothing to cover up” and pointed out that CNN “has full permission to visit Colombians.”
The same spokesman denied that any official evidence had been recorded without knowing what was written to the Colombians.
“Based on credible information, they were provided with translators so they understood what to sign or not to do,” the spokesman said.
Small food, no legal representation
Five people have been detained at Haiti’s National Prison since late summer.
The conditions in the prison were horrible to look at, with many men crowded into the same room. Hygiene seemed a afterthought. The rats ran across the field.
One of the Colombian prisoners told us, “Our lives have no value here.
Men say they get one plate of rice or sometimes corn per day. They each claim to have lost over 30 pounds. Some people lose significant amounts of hair and have clumps on the scalp, which is a clear sign of malnutrition.
“What is happening to us here is inhumane,” one said in tears.
The National Human Rights Protection Network (RNDDH), Haiti’s leading human rights organization, describes the general conditions in prisons as inhumane. “Despite receiving more prisoners in 12 months, the prison does not have adequate access to food, cooking gas and maintenance,” they said in a statement last month.
“We fully respect human rights,” said Haiti’s federal government spokesman. “We have no grudge against Colombian prisoners.”
The government has not responded to questions about why men have not yet been formally charged.
But more than five months after the assassination, the men had no legal representation a prerequisite for a judge to hear their testimony. They say Haiti’s judicial system has only provided young lawyers with whom they can not be contacted.
“They sent me some lawyer who did not speak Spanish in his second semester,” one said. “I’m not going to trust my life with him.”
According to someone close to the case, the lawyers who represent the men are not students, but trainees. Before becoming a lawyer, law graduates usually have to work for two years of training.
According to Brian Conan, an experienced expert who has worked for decades in the legal system in Haiti, these trainers are usually hired to represent those who may not be able to get a private lawyer, even if they are not fully qualified lawyers.
“So they defend serious criminal cases when they are not allowed to appear in a simple contract case [because they are not yet practicing attorneys]”They have no budget for the investigation and generally no compensation for their time,” Conan said.
The men hoped that the Colombian government would provide them with some legal assistance, but that has not yet happened.
The Haitian government has now claimed responsibility for Colombia. “We hope Colombian government officials will provide prisoners with lawyers so they can be questioned by a judge. [overseeing this case]A Haitian government spokesman said they could not be formally questioned without a lawyer.
The Colombian federal government in Bogot did not respond to CNN’s comments, and the Colombian embassy in Haiti referred our questions to the Foreign Ministry.
A public report from late July states that Colombian government representatives met with Colombian suspects with a lawyer. However, the men we spoke to said that none of the Colombians in prison currently have legal representation.
To add insult to injury, men say they have never had an explanation of the legal basis for long-term detention.
“No one was inside at any time [the legal process] He looked me in the face and said, ‘That’s why you are here.’ Everyone must remain innocent until proven guilty, and we all have the right to legal representation. “
The prisoners ended the hour-long conversation with a message to the international community.
“Please find love in your hearts to understand our situation and give us some benefit from doubt,” said one. “The best thing that can happen is that it is brought before an international tribunal. When I leave this country, I will tell the world everything I know.”