Kurzban: "Investigate Andrè Apaid"    Feb 14 2004

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Ira Kurzban press conference about Andre Apaid

Ira Kurzban: Haitian Legal Counsel

Calls for US Investigation While Opposition Defies Calls for Peace

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite international calls to end the sporadic violence that has spread throughout Haiti by armed gangs this week, two opposition leaders directly called for Haitians to remain armed until President Jean Bertrand Aristide has stepped down from office. Addressing a crowd of supporters on Thursday, Andy Apaid, Jr. and Evans Paul, leaders of the Group of 184, characterized the armed violence as legitimate political expression and also placed the removal of the democratically elected president of Haiti as a condition to the disarmament of these armed gangs. The statements were made in Port au Prince as an opposition march was canceled and more international questions emerged about ties between armed gangs and political opposition parties.

Ira Kurzban, General Counsel for the Government of Haiti in the United States, held a press conference today to denounce the opposition's calls for more violence and to raise questions about the legitimacy of some opposition leaders. "Public encouragement of more violence flies in the face of common decency and morality and is a direct challenge to the calls by foreign leaders to end violence and renew efforts to reach a negotiated settlement," exclaimed Kurzban. "Unfortunately, this is the same kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric that these groups have practiced and perpetuated for over one year now. The opposition leaders have not hidden their attempts to incite violence and have even condoned it in past public demonstrations where innocent people were brutally killed and where calls were made to overthrow the government.

"Today, however, I am taking a step to ensure greater accountability by the leaders of the opposition and by my own government," Kurzban asserted. "I am calling upon the US government to launch an investigation into the legality of Mr. Apaid's continuing leadership in a foreign political movement, especially one that calls for the violent overthrow of a sovereign government. I am also asking members of the United States Congress to investigate whether members of the US Government knew of Mr. Apaid's U.S. citizenship and ignored possible violations of the Neutrality Act, or worse, continued to fund and/or encourage his participation in efforts to overthrow another Government," Kurzban said.

"As many people already know, Mr. Apaid remains an American citizen and also holds a key leadership position in an opposition movement. In organizing efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Aristide and in suggesting that those who are using violent means should not immediately cease their activities, Mr. Apaid is continuing to violate the Neutrality Act. He should be investigated by the US Department of Justice and, if the evidence warrants, be properly brought to justice. I am hoping that my government will take this matter seriously and investigate immediately," declared Mr. Kurzban.

Under the US Neutrality Act, a citizen is barred from participating in and contributing to political activities in another sovereign nation, particularly when those activities include participation in the violent overthrow of a foreign government.

"Up until now Mr. Apaid has shown little regard for the law in Haiti or US law," "Mr. Kurzban remarked. It is well known in Haiti that almost five years ago, Mr. Apaid's company was fined for what amounts to telecommunications fraud under Haitian law. The fine amounted to approximately 2 million Haitian Gourds, which is the equivalent of the annual income of nearly 150 average Haitians. Now it appears that Mr. Apaid may have also committed fraud to obtain a Haitian passport. Mr. Apaid's public relations machine in the US has painted a very different picture of Apaid's character, but I want people in Haiti and the US to know the truth about people who call themselves responsible leaders and at the same time break the law," Kurzban continued.

Under Haitian law, a person may not hold dual citizenship. Mr. Apaid was born in New York in 1952 and never renounced his United States citizenship. He obtained a Haitian passport while knowingly retaining his US citizen status.

"This should not be construed as a way to target a political opponent of the government of Haiti, this is simply a request to ensure more responsible actions by people in the government and in the opposition. But it is not enough, however, for Mr. Apaid to face any criminal violations that he may have committed vis-a-vis the US, Mr. Paul and Mr. Apaid also need to help calm the situation on the ground by refusing to promote hatred and violence," Kurzban explained further.

Global Market Solutions is an international public affairs and government relations firm and is a registered agent for the Government of Haiti.

SOURCE Global Market Solutions