Haiti: 2 Americans in jail charged with conspiracy

May 20, 2012, 7:04 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Two Americans jailed in Haiti were charged with conspiracy for participating in a street march that pressed for the return of the country’s disbanded army, a Haitian government official said Sunday.

Reginald Delva, Haiti’s Secretary of State for Public Security, said Jason William Petrie and Steven Parker Shaw were charged Saturday night because of their involvement in last week’s march. Petrie, 39, is from Barberton, Ohio; and Shaw, 57, is from Dighton, Massachusetts.

“They were providing logistical support,” Delva said by telephone.

Authorities say Petrie and Shaw were drivers for a group of ex-soldiers and their young followers who marched in Haiti’s capital Friday for the army’s return. The demonstration drew hundreds of supporters who donned mismatching military uniforms, including Petrie who wore an army T-shirt and Shaw who wore camouflaged pants.

Petrie, a sometime interpreter for foreigners because of his two-decade involvement in Haiti, told The Associated Press while he was in jail that he knew the leaders of the band of the wannabe soldiers and described them as friends. He was merely lending a hand, he said. Shaw said he was helping Petrie.

“There wasn’t some American plotting against the government or causing instability. I think he got in a little over his head,” the brother of Petrie, Ben, said by telephone from his home in Ohio. “I don’t know what he was thinking but I can say unequivocally that there was no conspiracy.”

Ben Petrie, 37, said his brother had only the best intentions for a country he fell in love with.

“Some would say he has no business getting involved in Haiti’s business, and I would agree with that,” Ben Petrie said. “But he’s tired of the situation in Haiti and wants to see Haiti stand up on its own two feet.”

The pro-army march on Friday began peacefully but turned violent in the afternoon when people began throwing rocks at United Nations peacekeepers and shots were later fired outside an old military base.

Police locked up 48 other people on a range of charges that included possession of illegal weapons and not having paperwork for driving motorcycles. One of the leaders, a former sergeant named Aubin Larose, was charged with assault on a police officer.

Two other Americans and a Canadian were held for questioning for 24 hours in a police station lobby because they tried to bring medicine to Petrie for his diabetes. They were released late Saturday.

The detentions were part of a broader effort by the Haitian government to crack down on the groups of ex-soldiers and their young followers who were pressing President Michel Martelly to honor his campaign pledge of reinstating the armed forces, which was dissolved in 1995 because of its involvement in coups and other abuses.

Haitian authorities repeatedly ordered the armed men and a few women to clear out of 10 bases they had taken over since February but they refused. The leaders, most of them dismissed sergeants, said they wouldn’t leave until Martelly appointed them to an interim military force.

But Haitian police closed two military bases Saturday and a third Sunday morning in the northern city of Cap-Haitien when 100 people inside fled, Delva said.

Delva said authorities learned that the leaders of the group had tricked the younger recruits into thinking that they would be part of the military.

“It was a big scheme, making them think that they were part of an army,” Delva said, noting that the leaders charged recruits up to $125.

Police also found bottles to be used as Molotov cocktails and an expensive generator that raised questions about their source of funding. Some of the weapons they carried, including an M-60, turned out to be broken or fake, Delva said.

There was speculation that the would-be soldiers received funding from the Martelly administration in part because they were able to take over the old military bases and other public facilities without opposition. The leaders of the group denied they received government support, and Delva on Sunday denied it as well.

The men in the military uniforms had come to embarrass the U.N. peacekeeping mission and the Haitian government, which has focused on trying to lure foreign investors and tourists. The paramilitary-like presence of the hopeful troops worried many; they readily recalled a time when previous administrations used private militias to stay in power.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
20 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
21 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
21 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
27 days ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles


Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Haiti: 2 Americans in jail charged with conspiracy