Baptists Charged With Kidnapping Haitian Orphans

US missionaries detained in Port-Au-Prince
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 4, 2010 2:42 PM CST
Residents of the mountain village of Callebas, Haiti, including Melanie Augustin, left, and Sorianta Leantus, second from right, pose for a photo Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. Parents in this struggling village...   (Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – Ten Americans detained in Haiti for trying to take 33 children out of the country after the Jan. 12 earthquake have been charged with child kidnapping and criminal association, their Haitian lawyer said. The Baptist missionaries, most of them members of an Idaho-based church group, were whisked away from the closed court hearing to jail in Port-au-Prince.

Attorney Edwin Coq said that under Haiti's legal system, there won't be an open trial, but a judge will consider the evidence and could render a verdict in about three months; each kidnapping count carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Coq said that nine of the 10 knew nothing about the alleged scheme. "I'm going to do everything I can to get the nine out," Coq said. That would still leave mission leader Laura Silsby facing charges.

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