By Gistflash News
Aug 14, 2021
The investigative judge charged with overseeing the multinational probe into last month’s shocking assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise has quit the case.
Judge Mathieu Chanlatte recused himself on Friday, just four days after being handed the case, and two days after one of his court clerks was found dead in a local hospital under circumstances that remain unclear.
Chanlatte cited safety concerns and a lack of support to carry out such a high-profile and difficult investigation, Magistrate Bernard Saint-Vil, the dean of the Court of First Instance in Port-au-Prince, told The Miami Herald.
Saint-Vil had named Chanlatte to oversee the case on Monday.
Saint-Vil said he received the investigative judge’s signed letter on Friday afternoon.
“I now have to find another judge,” Saint-Vil said, expressing the hope that he could name a new investigative judge by early next week.
Late Friday, Chanlatte confirmed his decision to step away from the case.
“I decided to make this decision because all the authorities who had to provide for my needs in terms of personal security did not respond favorably to my requests after a week of going and coming incessantly to them,” he told The Miami Herald.
In Haiti, an investigative or instructing judge works much like a grand jury.
It is up to him or her to take over the investigation where police left off and ultimately bring charges in the case.
Security concerns are common in high-profile cases in Haiti, where investigative judges in the past have been forced to flee for the U.S. and Canada because of death threats.
Two judges and court clerks involved in documenting evidence in the case reported receiving death threats and pressure to fabricate reports, and before Chanlatte’s selection, a number of judges had expressed concerns about their security if they were to be assigned the case.
Saint-Vil said Chanlatte brought up his security and a lack of support during a conversation both men had Friday morning.
“He said that he, his wife and two daughters were sleeping in a house and up until now, he had not received any security, he had not received an armored vehicle, or anything, and that he was going to recuse himself,” Saint-Vil said.
Saint-Vil said he had requested extra security since last week in a meeting with his boss, the country’s justice minister.
“He said he had spoken to the director general of the police and he said he would provide security, and it was never made available,” Saint-Vil said.
“They said they were going to send him an armored vehicle and it never arrived.”
Meanwhile, The National Association of Haitian Registrars is asking for an investigation into the death of Ernst Lafortune, Chanlatte’s deceased court clerk. The organization asked Haiti’s justice minister, Rockefeller Vincent, to secure the safety of clerks working on sensitive cases.
A Haiti National Police official dismissed Chanlatte’s lack of security claims, telling the Herald that “he selected himself, his own security guards.”
The official did not want to be named, citing the sensitive nature of the assassination plot.
Haitian police have arrested 44 individuals, including 18 Colombian commandos, four Haitian Americans and 20 Haitian nationals.
Of the Haitian nationals, 20 are police officers, including the coordinator of the president’s security and the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, or USGPN.
The motive for the brazen July 7 killing, which also left first lady Martine Moise, seriously wounded, remains baffling – along with who financed and ultimately authored the crime.
Under Haitian law, Chanlatte had three months to investigate the murder and call witnesses in hopes of figuring out who killed the president.
His appointment, however, quickly stirred controversy in Haiti’s legal circles because of several other high profile cases he had overseen.
One of those cases involved a corruption complaint filed against first lady Martine Moise, the director general of the National Identification Office, Jude Jacques Élibert, and several other former government ministers.
The case centered on a no-bid contract between Haiti and the German company Dermalog for the manufacturing of new biometric identification cards that also double as voting cards.
Jean Wilner Morin, president of the National Association of Haitian Magistrates, expressed the belief that the media criticism and lack of security were all factors in Chanlatte’s decision.
But security and means, Morin said, remain critical and will continue to plague the probe if both are not addressed.
“For a judge to feel that he has the serenity to take on a case like this, he has to have the guarantee that the authorities are determined for light to be shed on the case.
“There cannot be any blockages,” president of the Haitian judges association said.
“If you have a judge on this case and he lacks the means to carry it out, it’s as if they have blocked the investigation,” he added.
Morin said: “The justice minister needs to quickly meet with the dean and decide on what kind of support they are going to give the judge selected to oversee the case.”
He added that with the circumstances surrounding Moise’s death still unclear and confusing,
Haitian authorities “need to provide all that is necessary in order for a judge to work because a case like this will require a lot of specialists and expertise.”
Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits Greek island of Crete
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
A magnitude 5.8 strong quake hit Greece’s Crete island on Monday, according to the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens.
The tremor’s epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km, some 25 km south of the city of Heraklion, the capital of Crete island, while aftershocks up to 4.3 magnitude have followed, according to Greek scientists.
Material damage has been reported, with no injuries until now, local officials told Greek national news agency AMNA.
Earlier, the Euro Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the quake’s magnitude at 6.2, which was later revised to 6.0.
WHO investigators seeking COVID-19 origin going back to China
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching a new investigation into the origins of COVID-19, months after an earlier probe ended without drawing firm conclusions, according to a report published.
WHO was putting together a team of some 20 scientists, who will be charged with finding new evidence in China and other locales, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The group will examine whether the virus emerged from a laboratory, a theory that has been angrily rejected by China.
In December 2020, WHO investigators began visits to Wuhan, China, where the first known outbreak of the virus took place.
But their March 2021 report said they had gotten insufficient information from Chinese scientists to answer key questions about COVID-19’s origin.
In August, U.S. intelligence agencies issued a separate report saying they also could not make firm conclusions about COVID-19’s origins.
Florida Gov. appoints Nigerian-American, Joseph Ladapo Surgeon-General
By Gistflash News
Sept 25, 2021
Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, U.S. has appointed a Nigerian-American, Dr Joseph Ladapo, as Florida Surgeon-General and Secretary of the Department of Health.
DeSantis in a statement posted on the Florida Department of Health website, stated that he was pleased to announce Ladapo for the position.
“I am pleased to announce that Ladapo will lead the Florida department of health as our state’s next surgeon-general
“Ladapo comes to us by way of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with a superb background.”
According to him, Ladapo has had both a remarkable academic and medical career with a strong emphasis in health policy research.
The governor said: ” Ladapo will bring great leadership to the department of health, ” thanking both Dr Scott Rivkees and Dr Shamarial Roberson for their hard work on behalf of all Floridians.
Lieutenant-Governor, Jeanette Nuñez described Ladapo’s as, “an excellent choice to serve as our next surgeon general.
“Ladapo has impeccable credentials and a strong vision to effectively serve the people of Florida at the helm of our public health agency.
“Through his service to our state, we will continue Florida’s work to advance our public health goals,” Nuñez said.
Ladapo said he is honored to have been chosen by DeSantis to serve as Florida’s next surgeon-general.
“We must make health policy decisions rooted in data and not in fear.
“From California, I have observed the different approaches taken by governors across the country and I have been impressed by DeSantis’ leadership and determination,” he said.
The new surgeon-general said he was impressed by DeSantis’ leadership to ensure that Floridians were afforded all opportunities to maintain their health and wellness, while preserving their freedoms as Americans.
“It is a privilege to join his team and serve the people of Florida,” he said.
Ladapo was recently granted a professorship at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine.
Prior to joining UF, he served as an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),caring for hospitalised patients.
He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, who also holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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