A Haitian Supreme Court judge who was arrested on charges of taking part in an alleged coup plot has been released from prison, his attorney said Thursday.
Judge Yvickel Dieujuste Dabresil “was just freed” and has returned home, his lawyer Marc-Antoine Maisonneuve told AFP.
With Haiti in another political crisis as protesters take to the streets to denounce President Jovenel Moise, Dabresil was among 23 people arrested over the weekend on suspicion of an “attempted coup.”
The protesters say Moise’s term ended Sunday but the president insists he has another year in office.
Moise has been ruling by decree for a year because there is no parliament right now. Legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed.
Judge Dabresil’s status has been a source of confusion for the past few days.
His lawyers had said he was released Wednesday from prison on the outskirts of the Haitian capital but remained under judicial supervision.
But human rights activist Marie-Yolene Gilles of the Je Klere Foundation later said the judge remained in prison.
The judge’s lawyers were reportedly denied access to the prison where he was being held.
“Yesterday it was force that prevailed but today is a major victory for the law,” said the attorney Maisonneuve.
Of those arrested over the weekend, 17 remain in the Croix-des-Bouquets prison on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, the lawyer said.
Under Haiti’s constitution, a Supreme Court judge can be charged only if two-thirds of the members of parliament decide so. But this is impossible now because there is no legislature.
The accusations of coup plotting leveled by the authorities were received with skepticism by the opposition and civil society leaders, who say the government is arresting people illegally on political grounds.
The dispute over when the president’s term ends stems from Moise’s original election. He was voted into office in a poll subsequently canceled after allegations of fraud, and then elected again a year later, in 2016.