PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP/Reuters) - Ten American Christians charged in Haiti with child kidnapping and conspiracy were denied conditional release and sent to jail to await trial, their lawyer told AFP.
The judge did not accept the request for conditional release, said Edwin Coq, lawyer for the group that was detained a week ago for trying to smuggle a group of 33 children out of Haiti into the Dominican Republic.
Sitting in the prosecutors office the 10 could be seen looking dejected after having previously been held in a police detention centre.
On their departure one of the women, Laura Silsby, was asked what was going on. We just dont know, we just dont know, she replied.
It later became clear that the 10 had been remanded in custody. The judge passed down two detention orders, one for the group of five men, who will be held at the national prison, and another for the five women who will be held at Petionville womens prison.
Hearings are planned for next week, said Coq, who had petitioned for the group to be released pending their trial, which could take months to prepare.
Meanwhile, former US President Bill Clinton urged the US and Haitian governments to resolve the case of 10 American missionaries accused of trying to take children illegally out of quake-hit Haiti.
Clinton, named by the UN to coordinate relief efforts for survivors of the devastating Jan 12 quake, made the appeal during a visit to the shattered Haitian capital.
The Americans case is diplomatically sensitive and aid groups complain it has distracted media and world attention away from the struggle to feed and shelter hundreds of thousands of Haitians camped out in wrecked streets.
Whats important now is for the government of Haiti and the government of the United States to get together and work through this, Clinton told CNN in Port-au-Prince.
He said he understood the Haitian governments efforts to try to protect its children from possible child traffickers and unlawful adoptions following the catastrophic quake.
But he also said the missionaries could be telling the truth when they argued they simply wanted to help the children and did not mean to violate any laws. Evidence has emerged that many of the intercepted children were not orphans but were given up by parents who wanted them to have a better life.
The government of Haiti ... (is) not looking for some big fight here. They just want to protect their children and they also want to make sure they have a good inventory so they dont send children away that maybe have an aunt or an uncle that have an income, Clinton said.
I think theyll find a way to defuse the crisis and work through this, he added, but he said the case was not his direct responsibility.
Obviously this is a matter for the Haitian judicial system, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is Bill Clintons wife, told reporters in Washington.
Haitian President Rene Prevals crippled administration, which has been accused by many of its citizens of failing to do enough to help quake survivors, has defended its decision to detain and charge the Americans.
It is true the country has been brought to its knees by the earthquake, but we still have laws. ... In any case, whoever violates the law has to be sanctioned, whether the violator is a US or European citizen, or someone else, Justice Minister Paul Denis told Reuters.