Haitian Judge Drops Charges Against Most Missionaries

Two still face 'irregular trip' charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 27, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
Haitian Judge Drops Charges Against Most Missionaries
In this Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 file photo, Laura Silsby, one of the 10 Americans arrested while trying to bus children out of Haiti, is escorted to the court building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano, file)

(Newser) – A Haitian judge said today that he has dismissed kidnapping and criminal association charges against 10 American missionaries detained for trying to take a busload of children out of the country after the Jan. 12 earthquake. But Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said Laura Silsby, the last of the 10 missionaries jailed in Haiti, still faced a lesser charge for allegedly organizing the effort to transport the 33 children to an orphanage they were setting up in the Dominican Republic.

Silsby faces up to three years in prison if convicted on the remaining charge, the "organization of irregular trips," from a 1980 statute restricting travel out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. Silsby declined comment from her jail cell. A Haitian-born pastor from Atlanta faces the same charges. Most of the Americans were released back in February, when the judge determined that the parents of the children they were trying to leave the country with had given them up voluntarily. (Read more Americans detained Haiti stories.)

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