ARISTIDE- SAINT OR ASSASIN: The Assassination of Mireille Durocher Bertin on March 28, 1995
This is an account of the days prior to the assassination of Me Mireille Durocher Bertin, as well as the events of March 28th, 1995, the way they have been reported to me by members of the FBI task force sent to Haiti in the morning of March 29th to investigate the crime, as well as by other sources.
Mid March 1995, a Haitian translator named Claude Douge, working for the US Armed Forces stationed in Haiti in March 1995, reported to high commandment, that he had been approached by the Brothers Moise, trying to enlist him in an assassination plot to kill Mireille Durocher Bertin (…had been given an uzi …). The 2 brothers bragged about a contract given – as they pretended – by the Interior Minister of Haiti Mondesir Beaubrun, himself, giving specific details about this eminent assassination plot.
Fn1: The Brothers Moise (Eddy and Patrick) had been part of a group of Haitian Aristide Loyalist that infested and occupied during the embargo time the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince, Route de Delmas. At least of them, Jean Pierre, had been trained in 1991 in Aristide’s SSP – an anti constitutional secret police force. Fearing for their life and not being able to negotiate a safe conduct to the PAP airport, their family contacted Mireille, asking for help. Mireille refused their representation as a lawyer, agreed however – in the name of love and understanding for other Haitian citizens (Mireille dixit) – to negotiate a deal for free passage to the airport with FAdH General Raoul Cedras. Her intervention/ negotiation was successful and the brothers Moise, together with the others members of this group (I believe, there were 5 people all together) could leave Haiti unharmed.
C. Douge indicated that the hired murderers would come to his house on Sunday March 19th , driving a grey Izuzu Trooper, ( to conduct reconnaissance of Mireille’s workplace and private house ) and that they could be taken into custody there and then. The US Army proceeded on Sunday March 19th, 1995 with the arrest of the 2 brothers Moise, a certain Michellet Nicolas and Jean Joseph StClaire. They were driving a grey Izuzu Trooper, registered to the Haitian Interior Ministry, given to them directly by the Interior Minister M. Beaubrun on Saturday night, had in their possession weapons, registered to the Haitian Interior Ministry, and carried ID cards, identifying them as members of the special secret police unit (FBI dixit), President Aristide had created in that time. The Americans also found the personal telephone number of Minister Mondesir Beaubrun in their possession. The story of the assassination plot was then verified independently with Douge’s wife and the other members of the arrested team (…confirmed that Mr Patrick Moise met the Minister and others at the Ministry of the Interior throughout this past week…).
Aristide killed Mireille Durocher Bertin The Tuesday following the arrest, March 21st, the American Ambassador William Lacey Swing sent a note to the State Department informing them about the arrest of 3 Haitian individuals that – apparently – had had the plan to execute Mireille Durocher Bertin in retaliation to a letter that the lawyer had written and handed over to American Military High Command. This letter – written on behalf of De Ronceray’s MDN (Mobilization for National Development Party, a political party, opposing Aristide) accused the Brothers Moise having the intention to kill a number of business and political leaders all figuring on a list attached to this letter. The persons to be killed, were the so-called coup participants of September 91. Fn 2 Fn 2: Mireille had no professional, nor personal contact to the MDN and their party leader De Ronceray; as a matter of fact, she did not like the person, nor his political convictions. To my knowledge this letter never existed and is an invention of Ambassador Swing. Ambassador Swing had a strong dislike of Mireille and his aversion could be clearly seen in every aspect prior to this tragic event as well as during the FBI investigation following the murder.
Wednesday, March 22nd, US Commanding General George A. Fisher wrote a letter to the Haiti’s Justice Minister Jean-Joseph Exume, cc to President Aristide and the American Embassy/ Ambassador W. L. Swing. The note informed all parties about the above-mentioned events, requesting from the Haitian Government to a) take actions, b) investigate their Interior Minister and c) above all, inform Mireille about this very concrete death threat. He also offered assistance “as may be appropriate upon your request”.
The reactions were as follows:
1) American Embassy Upon reception of this letter, the Ambassador immediately classified the note of March 19th, 1995. Fn 3 Fn 3: This note was declassified in June 1996 ( I believe on June 11th, 96 ) and was picked up by Charles Lane, Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic in 1997. Mr. Lane wrote an article about the Haitian status quo (copy included ”Failing Haiti”), talking about the general degradation of the situation and the political murders, committed in 1995 and 1996. Judging from my knowledge of the events in 1995, his article was fairly correct and well researched. When spoken to – over the phone – about the article, Mr. Lane, after an initially warm welcome, refused to continue talking to me, claiming that, and I quote, “ I had had already enough problems regarding this article and that I have no intention to die for a f….. country like Haiti”. With these words and his clear wish to me not to “bug” him again, he hang up.
Furthermore the Ambassador pronounced a forceful Veto against all involved Embassy employees insisting to inform Mireille directly. This action was later qualified by one of the investigating FBI agents as described hereafter and I quote : “I would like to believe that this (reaction) was an “honest misjudgment” 2) Ministry of Justice Minister J.J. Exhumé replied immediately, on March 23rd, stating that all accusations aiming at Minister M. Beaubrun were false and that nothing in that letter by the American Forces was the truth.
Mireille can never see her daughter on stage because she had the courage to talk.
Still on March 23rd, he phoned Mireille, telling her the following and I quote as best as I can, from the account of a direct eye and ear witness, present at the moment of the call:
“You might have heard that there is a warrant for your arrest in the making or having been made; as your colleague and class mate I can assure you that this is not the truth. I would like you to come tomorrow to the Ministry, so we can talk about this. I would like to give you also my personal telephone number, so if you have a problem, you can call me.” Mireille answered, that she would come the following day and at the same time bring the documents she had prepared to register her political party MIN (here after please find the “Declaration of Principles” of MIN, deposited at the Ministry of Justice on March 24th; a document that until today has not received an answer from the Haitian Justice Department).
Preval-Alexis On March 24th at 10:00/10:30am Mireille went to the Haitian Justice Ministry, accompanied by a relative from her Father’s side. She went in the private office of Minister J.J. Exumé, left however the door open, so her companion could follow every detail of the meeting. The appointment was over in minutes, no warning was issued, no information other than the telephone number changed hands. The MIN documents were deposited and Mireille left.
On March 28th, Mireille had to go to the American Camp at the PAP Airport to sign several documents on behalf of her client Eugene (nick named Junior) Baillerjeau. The remains of Junior’s plane, which was nothing more than a pile of rusted iron, got damaged during the American invasion in September 1994. The American GI’s smashed all instruments of his plane, as well as of all other private planes, parked in the PAP airport on the day of the troops ‘arrival.
Having obtained a sum of USD 20,000.00 for all damages, in exchange for dropping the case against the United States Army, Mireille had to pose the final signature that day at 4:00pm latest, departure day for the US Army lawyers, dealing with the case. Not being able to wait for the arrival of her husband picking up the 4 children at school and being stuck in traffic, Mireille left her father’s house on Ruelle Duncombe No 31 at around 3:30pm in the private car of E. Baillerjeau, with E. Baillerjeau as the driver.
According to witness accounts and intercepted radio communications between members of the Haitian Police force, they were followed and at around 3:45pm the car arrived at the crossroad of Ave. Martin Luther King and Ave. Pouplard, where another car was waiting. Traffic was monstrous and all cars wereadvancing very slowly. At that moment E. Baillerjeau must have seen something, as he tried to turn around and speed away, direction Avenue John Brown. The assassins however, named (I am quoting hereby FBI reports), Claudy Lacroix (a well known person in the neighborhood) and the renown “killer-for-hire” Eddy Arbrouet”, as well as a third man, opened fire, shooting at the tires and thus immobilizing the car. According to eye witness accounts, the 3 men then caught the passengers in a cross fire, with Eddy Arbrouet climbing on the hood of the car and shooting at Mireille. She received 15 bullets (autopsy made by the FBI on March 30th in the American Camp near the PAP Airport ). E. Baillerjau was also killed on the spot. Mireille’s body was found slumped over the seat towards E. Baillerjeau, trying to protect herself against the bullets by crossing her arms across her chest. A file filled with documents laid on the floor in front of her seat. E. Baillerjeau was sitting upright, his left upper arm nearly blown ompletely off.
It has been reported by eye witnesses that:
a video film was taped of the killing. Mr Dany Toussaint, then Director of the Haitian temporary Police Force, was present watching the scene from a close point of view. One of the killers (3 all together) got hit by a stray bullet, when cross firing at the passengers.
Mireille’s husband, having arrived at the Ruelle Duncombe’s residents minutes after Mireille’s departure, always kept radio contact at regular intervals with his wife. Not receiving any answer from her from 3:45pm on, he immediately followed the road his wife had indicated, she would take to go to the American Camp. He arrived only minutes after the shooting, around 4:05/ 4:10pm. Leaving his children in the car, he approached the scene that was at that time already totally surrounded by curious bystanders, blocking all passage on Martin Luther King Road and stopping traffic all together. Blue Helmets and American Forces were already present at the scene or came minutes later. The crime scene was fenced off and a tarp was used to cover the car with the 2 dead passengers. Haitian Police arrived as well as the Commissaire du Gouvernement who wanted to transport the body to the morgue of the General Hospital. Mireille’s father, present from around 4:30pm on, refused, fearing that her body might be mutilated during the night and that body parts would be stolen to be used in black magic ceremonies by the ones having ordered the crime. It is widely believed in Haiti that if one consumes the body parts of a strong dead personality, such as heart, brain etc… this person also absorbs the strength of the deceased.
At 9:15pm, following my intervention with the US Armed Forces present at the crime scene, Mireille and E. Baillerjeau were taken out of the car and transported by the funeral car of “Paret Pierre Louis’ Funeral Home”, accompanied by an American convoy to the morgue located inside the American Camp. Fn 4 Fn 4: The rumor that Mireille was pregnant at the time of her death, came from the blown up state her body was in, when she was taken out of the car 4 hours after the killing; the decay, accelerated by the tropical heat, having caused her abdomen to swell.
FBI came in the next morning; they had E. Baillerjeau’s car carried to the American camp for further investigation. Upon the family’s refusal to transport her body to the US to make an autopsy, FBI specialists were flown in, to proceed with the autopsy on Thursday, March 30th. At 3:00pm, both bodies were given to the families and transported by an American convoy to the Funeral Home of Paret Pierre Louis in down town PAP. GI’s were posted in front of the Funeral Parlor to prevent an eventual theft of the body.
In the evening of March 30th at 9:30pm, CNN Headline News published the letter written by General Fisher on March 22nd, talking about an alleged conspiracy going as high up as the Interior Ministry and the Haitian President himself. At 10:00pm the story was changed, publishing only selected parts of the letter and not making any connection to the Haitian Government anymore. According to CNN sources present in Haiti in that time, the letter had been given by a very high American military officer to CNN in Washington, with the words, and I quote: “We are extremely pissed off, this should not have happened”.
Funeral services were held for Mireille on Monday, April 3rd with the presence of international media and broadcasted all over the world. E. Baillerjeau’s funeral was held on Wednesday, April 5th (if I recall properly) and all members of the Baillerjeau family left Haiti shortly afterwards to live abroad.
According to FBI accounts the investigation was hindered in many ways:
Death threats, no collaboration from local police nor the American Embassy, whose most important point to the investigation was and I quote: “You must understand that this woman had many lovers….”, Ambassador Swing explained to the FBI at their first contact visit at the US Embassy, lavishly going into a description of 1 hour, describing her love life, as seen by this American Diplomat.
Information about the investigation filtered out to the Haitian Government to an extent that after several weeks, a FBI specialist was flown in to change the frequency of the radios used by the investigators to a frequency that could not be picked up by the American Embassy, cellular not being available at this time.
In June 1995, one of the members of the killing squad wanted to make a deal and talk in exchange to immunity, an American Residency for him and his family, a house and a pension in the USA . This person was Pierre Michel (Onil) Lubin, a captain in the Haitian Police Force. The FBI could not evacuate him the night of the contact and were unable the following morning, to fly him to Miami to present his testimony to a Congressional Hearing’s Committee. Within hours, Aristide’s lawyer, Burke Wise had flown in from the USA , claiming 5th Amendment on behalf his client. When the FBI responded that there is no 5th Amendment in the Haitian Legislation, Aristide prohibited all contacts whatsoever with Haitians. This decision was corrected after 3 days of negotiations between the State Department and the Haitian Government and converted into a prohibition to talk to 12 individuals. According to the FBI, these 12 individuals were the ones that had carried out the plot after the 4 previous assassins Moise, Nicolas and St. Claire had been arrested and were being held in jail following their arrest. All three were released from jail in 1995 or early 1996.
I do not have all 12 names, but the ones given to me by the FBI are the following:
Minister of Interior Mondesir Beaubrun, ordering the crime on behalf of President Jean Bertrand Aristide to be carried out before the arrival of President Clinton on April 1st (FBI sources dixit).
Minister of Justice Jean Joseph Exumé (the FBI had evidence that the decision to kill Mireille was a decision taken in a ministerial meeting) Dany Toussaint, identified as the organizer and supervisor of the crime; he had deserted the army prior to 1990 (Sous-Lieutenant) and was given, by a personal appeal of President Aristide, amnesty and the rank of a captain on May 16th, 1991.
Pierre Michel (Onil) Lubin (ref also the newspaper article hereafter attached); he had been thrown out of the army prior to 1990 ( Sous-Lieutenant) ; was pardoned and given the rank of a Captain by President Aristide on Feb. 12th,1991.
Hildevert Pierre Cherubin; he was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant-General on Feb.12th 1991 by President Aristide.
Medard Joseph; he had been thrown out of the army prior to 1990 (Sous-Lieutenant) ; was pardoned and given the rank of a Lieutenant by President Aristide on Feb. 12th,1991.
Richard (Sacha) Salomon (same promotion at the military academy as Dany Toussaint and P.M. Lubin), was involved in the arrest and killing of 5 individuals on Delmas in 1991; all 5 persons were killed the same night following their arrest.
Jean Marie Fourel Celestin, promoted from Captain to Major on April 5th, 1991 by President Aristide.
There was also the dispatcher of that day that was killed in – I believe – 1999 or 2000, but I do not remember his name.
Eddy Arbrouet, killed shortly after the pressure to arrest him, exerted by US Senator Jesse Helms, mounted too high (he was shot in the back, while sleeping in his hiding place in Léogane – the official version was that he had resisted arrest). Being one of the most prominent killers-for- hire in Haiti during this period of time, Eddy Arbrouet is believed to have killed at least 6 people in 1995 for the Haitian Government or for people in high places in the Haitian Government. It is also widely believed that he had killed Justice Minister Guy Malary in 1993, as well as abducted the Potensky child in 1996 (Potensky was American citizen and there is a record of his kidnapping and disappearing at the American FBI, having conducted this investigation over the period of several months).
According to the FBI ballistic reports and other records, Eddy Arbrouet had killed at least 6 people during this period of time: Toutou Claude, Michel-Ange Herman, Lesly Grimard, Mireille Durocher Bertin, General Henri-Max Mayard and he had also carried out the Antoine Leroy, Jacques Feurival double homicide.
Claudy Lacroix, the other identified killer is still living in Haiti, apparently having returned to the same neighborhood, he left, after fleeing FBI pressure in 1995.
The FBI left Haiti in October 1995, not being authorized to finish their final report of the Durocher Bertin killing. In November 1995 they went back to turn over their findings to a Haitian Special Task Force created to continue the investigation. I would like to quote the FBI agent in charge of this briefing who indicated to me that: “I am coming in that room and I see all her killers sitting there in the audience”.
Another 3 interesting details are:
That W. L. Swing when asked by Congress about Mireille’s murder, requested a closed door session that President Clinton used his Executive Privilege only three time in his 2 terms; one of these 3 times was the day, Congress asked him about ”whether he had known that is was the Haitian Government with the help of the Haitian Police that had committed all the political assassinations in Haiti in 1995”. The other two incidents were related to the Monica Lewinsky affair and the presumed CIA cocaine trafficking in California to finance the war against cocaine in Columbia.
That, prior to his visit to Haiti, President Clinton requested not to be confronted with Interior Minister Mondesir Beaubrun. On April1st, 1995, President Clinton was received at the presidential Palace in PAP by the entire ministerial Cabinet of President Aristide, with the exception of his Interior Minister, Mondesir Beaubrun.
That according to FBI sources their mandate prior to their arrival in Haiti was, to prove that it was President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who had ordered the execution.