Prosecutors order ex Haiti strongman transferred to new jail

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A day after ex-paramilitary leader Emmanuel “Toto” Constant was deported from the U.S., Haitian prosecutors on Wednesday ordered him transferred to the northern coastal town of Gonaives where authorities will decide whether the former strongman accused of murder and torture will be freed.

Prosecutor Maxine Auguste shared the decision with The Associated Press after meeting privately with Constant’s attorney.

Constant became leader of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled in 1991 and is accused of killing, raping and torturing those loyal to the former leader. Human rights group allege that between 1991 and 1994, Constant’s group terrorized and slaughtered at least 3,000 slum dwellers who supported Aristide.

Constant fled Haiti when Aristide returned to power in 1994 with help from the U.S. military, and he remained in the U.S. until Tuesday despite a 1995 deportation order. In 2000, Constant was convicted in absentia in Haiti following a trial for the 1994 massacre in Raboteau, a Gonaives shantytown where Aristide supporters were killed.

While in the U.S., Constant lived with relatives in New York and kept a low profile until he was arrested in 2006. He was later found guilty for his role in a $1.7 million mortgage fraud scheme and sentenced to at least 12 years in prison.

Constant has repeatedly claimed that he was on the CIA’s payroll and that he is a scapegoat and would be killed upon his return to Haiti.

Ronaldo Saint-Louis, Constant’s attorney, has said his client is being held illegally.

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