Missionary stands trial in Haiti

American
missionary Laura Silsby will stand trial in Haiti on a charge of arranging
irregular travel.

Judge
Bernard Saint-Vil dropped kidnapping and criminal association charges against
Silsby and nine other missionaries who were stopped while trying to take 33
Haitian children out of the country after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti
in January.

If
convicted Silsby could face from six months to three years in prison for
arranging irregular travel, the Haitian term for illegally smuggling humans.

The
judge said the trial could begin as early as this week.

Silsby’s
nine fellow missionaries were released from detention and returned to the
United States weeks ago, but Silsby has remained behind bars in
Haiti.

The
judge’s decision means that the nine other missionaries no longer face any
charges in Haiti.

The
judge ruled that Silsby and Jean Saint-Vil, a Haitian-American pastor who is
not related to the judge, will stand trial on the charge of arranging irregular
travel. Silsby told officials that the pastor helped her locate children in the
Delmas neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. He fled the country the day she was
arrested and has not cooperated with authorities.

Haitian
authorities stopped the 10 on 29 January as they tried to take 33 Haitian
children across the border into the Dominican Republic. Authorities said the
group didn’t have proper legal documentation.

The
10 Americans, many of whom belong to a Baptist church in Idaho, have said they
were trying to help the children get to a safe place after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattened cities and towns in
Haiti.

Silsby
originally claimed the children were orphaned or abandoned, but the Haitian
government and the orphans’ charity SOS Children say that all have at least one
living parent. Eight of the missionaries were released from custody in February
and a ninth, Charisa Coulter of Boise, Idaho, was released in March

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