Haiti to Free Baptist Kidnappers for Jesus for Lack of Criminal Intent
February 11, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-A Haitian judge has reportedly decided to release the ten American Baptist missionaries charged with kidnapping and criminal association for attempting to snatch up impoverished Haitian children from the quake ravaged country, and transport them across the border to the Dominican Republic without documentation. The ten evangelicals, eight of whom are from two Idaho Southern Baptist churches, claimed that they were rescuing the children, many who weren’t even orphans, in the name of Jesus. Laura Silsby, the leader of the group claimed, “We have been sent by the Lord to rescue these children, and if it’s in the Lord’s plan we will be successful.” Now, it’s being reported by Reuters and other news agencies on the scene in Haiti, that Judge Bernard Saint-Vil plans to recommend to the prosecutor that the misguided missionaries should be released and allowed to return to the United States. The group, who has been jailed in Port-au-Prince, since Jan. 29, could be released as early as Thursday.
The arrests of the ten evangelicals who descended upon the devastated Haitian capital on a snatch and grab mission, to “rescue orphans” many of whom were taken from their parents, exposed the vulnerability of poor children in the aftermath of a catastrophic event like the powerful earthquake that decimated Port-au-Prince. Silsby,40, the owner of an online personal shopping site, with financial troubles, had established the New Life Refuge in November, with the stated goal to: “rescue Haitian orphans abandoned on the streets, makeshift hospitals or from collapsed orphanages in Port au Prince and surrounding areas, and bring them to New Life Children’s Refuge in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.”
The New Life refuge was a 45-room seaside hotel the church group was renting to house the Haitian children. Silsby and her group of evangelicals planned to stay in Haiti just long enough to “gather 100 orphans” and move them out of the country. The mission statement of New Life Refuge stated that it would “provide opportunities for adoption.” Neither Silsby nor any of the other church members had a background in running an orphanage in a foreign country. And Silsby’s New Life Refuge certainly did not have assets or the financial resources to operate an orphanage.
On Thursday, sources told Reuters that the Haitian judge had determined that the group, although in violation of Haitai’s laws, did not possess the criminal intent to kidnap and traffic in children.
“One thing an investigating judge seeks in a criminal investigation is criminal intentions on the part of the people involved and there is nothing that shows that criminal intention on the part of the Americans,” the source said
Once the prosecutor receives the judges order he has the right to appeal if the judge recommends that charges also be dropped, but the judge has the final say in the matter.
(Update: After a closed-door hearing, a dossier of the case was sent to a local prosecutor for review and no action is expected until Monday.