Thursday, May 13, 2010

HAITI:Prosecutors Seek 6 Month Prison Term For US Kidnapper Laura Silsby

Laura Silsby, top, speaks during an audience at a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, May 13, 2010.

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Prosecutors asked for a six-month prison term for supposed US missionary Laura Silsby, who was arrested trying to leave Haiti with 33 children following the devastating January earthquake that hit the country.

Silsby was described as the leader of a group of 10 US Baptists stopped at the border with the Dominican Republic with the children who were purported to be orphans.

Although she was initially accused of child abduction, the charges were later revised to "irregular travel."

A verdict in the case is expected within a few days, judicial officials said.

Silsby and her fellow accomplishes were arrested on January 29 as they tried to take the children into the neighboring Dominican Republic by bus without the necessary documentation.

The members of the New Life Children's Refuge missionary group denied wrongdoing, saying they were only trying to help orphans in the wake of Haiti's devastating January 12 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people.

Haitian authorities later determined that all 33 children that the US missionaries tried to remove from the country had parents, with whom they were eventually reunited.

Silsby's defense lawyer Jean Renel Tessier argued that Silsby should not be convicted on the charges "because the border with the Dominican Republic was open."

The other nine missionaries arrested were all released and allowed to return to the United States, but Silsby, the leader of the group, remained detained in Port-au-Prince.

Source: AFP

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