17 April Woodly Etheart, a Port au Prince restaurateur with close ties to the presidential family, was freed after a trial that lasted two hours. He, together with 13 others, was indicted on various crimes including running a kidnapping for ransom ring. Etheart and Renel Nelfort, who was also freed, were the “intellectual authors” of Gang Galil, a notorious gang that kidnapped 17 people including businessmen, for ransom between 2008 and 2014. According to court documents, the gang collected nearly USD1.5 million in ransoms. Etheart, who worked for the Ministry of Interior and operated the French restaurant, La Souvenance, maintained that he was innocent. He had been in jail since May 2014 accused of killing Haitian businessman Sami El Azzi. Two days after the release, the Minister of Justice sacked the prosecutor. The Obama Administration also expressed “concern” about the speed of the court ruling. The government said it will appeal the decision to dismiss the charges against the two men.



5 April A number of families in Alicante reported to la Policia Nacional that they have received “virtual kidnapping” calls. In a typical incident, a mother received a call while she was at home from a caller caller claiming to have kidnapped her 18 year old son and demanding 5,000 euros for his safe release. The mother was given one hour in which to deliver the money. Most calls of this type occur between 4:00pm and 7:00pm and the caller normally nominates Western Union or MoneyGram for the transfer of the funds.

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