Senate president denies involvement in extradition of Phillippe

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 14, CMC – President of the National Assembly, Youri Latortue, has denied any involvement in the arrest and extradition of rebel leader turned politician, Guy Phillippe, after a voice recording surfaced here implicating him in the matter.
In a statement, Latortue said that he was “surprised to learn that the elected Senator of Grand’Anse, Mr. Guy Philippe, would put him responsible for his extradition to the United States”.
But he said that he “unreservedly denies the presumptions made about any role he played in this”.
Phillippe, 48, was elected as a Senator for the Grand’Anse district in the November 20 legislative and presidential elections last year.
But he was arrested and extradited to the United States last month where he has since pleaded not guilty to charges of drug smuggling and money laundering. The charges carry a maximum life prison sentence.
Political observers here said Philippe was arrested while he did not yet have all the immunities conferred on him as a result of his election victory.
Article 114 of the Constitution stipulates that “Members of the Legislative Body are inviolable from the day of taking the oath until the expiry of their term of office, subject to the provisions of Article 115.”
According to the tape recording of a telephone conversation with an unidentified person, Latortue and four members of the Lavalas party have been implicated in the “conspiracy leading to his arrest.
President of the National Consortium of Haitian Political Parties, Jeantel Joseph, said the voice on the recording belongs to Phillippe.
But Latortue said that he would not engage in a debate on the issue “especially since the case in question seems to be much more complex than one would like to believe”.
He said that manipulating an imprisoned person “ is horribly dishonest” and that the action of those involved in peddling the rumours “demonstrates the cynicism of certain actors, who are supposedly well-meaning”.

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