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 Captain accused in migrant smuggling could face death

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MessageSujet: Captain accused in migrant smuggling could face death   Mer 20 Mai 2009 - 14:27

Captain accused in migrant smuggling could face death
BY ANDREW MARRA
Palm Beach Post

A Haitian man charged with captaining an ill-fated immigrant smuggling voyage from the Bahamas to South Florida learned Wednesday he could face the death penalty for his role in the voyage that left nine people dead.
Jimmy Metellus, 33, is charged with alien smuggling resulting in death.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Vitunac told Metellus Wednesday in a West Palm Beach courtroom that the deaths caused by the immigrant smuggling journey ``make you potentially eligible to face the death penalty for these charges.''

Metellus, a legal U.S. resident who does not speak English, answered ''oui'' when asked if he understood the charges against him.

In flip flops, shackles and a blue jump suit, he limped with apparent difficulty and scanned the courtroom warily as he rose to hear the charges against him.

A public defender was appointed to represent Metellus after he told Vitunac that he has no money and has been supported by his family in Haiti while he received treatments for an unspecified illness.

Metellus told Vitunac that he has nine children and left the United States in September 2007 because he was ill and needed to return to Haiti for treatment.

''I am married,'' he said through a court translator. ``However, I have been separated from my wife for the last four years.''

He was ordered to be held without bail until his next court date on May 29. His arraignment was scheduled for June 3.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators say Metellus was hired by four men in the Bahamas and agreed to make the trip for free to escape hardships in Haiti.

The smugglers were allegedly paid thousands of dollars for the journey, which was supposed to go from Nassau to Bimini and then to the shores of Miami.

But on the way from Bimini, the boat carrying more than two dozen people sank in the waters off Boynton Beach. Nine people died and 16 survivors were pulled from the Atlantic; all but one were Haitian migrants.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court, a man identified as ''Survivor-1'' said his brother paid $4,000 to have him smuggled into the United States.

The survivor, a Haitian man, had been living in the Bahamas for about five months before embarking on the trip from Nassau with about 30 migrants.

The trip was organized by four men, one of whom is identified in documents as ``Shine.''

No one else has been charged in the deadly smuggling trip, but authorities said the investigation is ongoing.

The boat trip was troubled from the start. On the way to Bimini, the boat ran out of fuel and had been drifting for two to three days, the survivor said.

A boat with three people on board later brought more fuel to the stranded boat.

The migrant boat then made it to Bimini, where the crew and passengers spent the night at Shine's home.

They were given a meal of fish and rice. The next night, they were loaded back onto the boat and set off on their final destination -- the United States.

It's unclear, however, what went wrong about 2 a.m. last Wednesday when the boat sank off the Palm Beach County coast, sending more than two dozen people into the water in the middle of the night.

About 12 hours later, a passing boater spotted a few survivors and pulled them from the water. The survivors told the boater the overcrowded boat capsized and sank.

When authorities interviewed Metellus, he first said he was not involved with smuggling, but then told authorities that the man identified as Shine had hired him to captain the boat.

He told them that Shine and three others organized the trip and offered to pay him $6,000. He said he chose to skip payment in exchange for the free trip.

Metellus, who told authorities he had lost his green card during a hurricane in Haiti, said he needed to get to the United States because he was trying to support seven children. He was ''living a difficult life in Haiti,'' the complaint said.

Metellus told authorities that Shine ``appointed him as one of the vessel's captains.''

Metellus is a Haitian citizen who is a legal permanent resident of the United States, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.

Of the survivors, 15 are Haitian and one is Jamaican.

No other bodies were recovered in the Atlantic. The Coast Guard spent two days last week combing the waters off Brevard County in search of survivors. But after roaming more than 100 miles of Florida coastline from Boynton Beach northward, the search was called off.

It is not known how many people were on the boat. Survivors gave rescuers different numbers for how many were on board.

Of the 16 survivors, 11 had been held on a Coast Guard cutter until Friday, when they were taken to shore for additional interviews. Their identities were released to the public on Friday. No decision has been made on repatriating them to their respective homelands.

Miami Herald staff contributed to this report.
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MessageSujet: Re: Captain accused in migrant smuggling could face death   Mer 20 Mai 2009 - 14:41

Eske sa vle di yo pral pann mouche ou bali gaz ou chèz elektrik?

Eske moun sa yo avan yo moute bato a pat konsian de zak yap poze a?

Mwen panse ke tout diaspora a dwe kanpe pou anpeche kapitènn sa a ale nan peyi san chapo.
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