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This is the question which many, including ourselves, asked following the sudden death, by cerebrovascular accident, of Judge Jean Serge Joseph, one week ago. While there will be an autopsy done in Canada, we feel almost certain, that this question will never be answered to everyone’s complete satisfaction.  It will probably still be topical in 20 plus years.  One thing, which is certain, is that any honest judge in Haiti, especially one charged with investigating corruption of any sort, and especially involving the President’s family (or the Prime Minister), must be very stressed and frightened, whether s/he is overtly threatened or not.  Some believe that stress, especially over time, can induce cerebrovascular accident, and/or impact outcome.  

What is a cerebrovascular accident?  Often called a stroke, it “is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia (lack of blood flow) caused by blockage (thrombosis, arterial embolism), or a hemorrhage.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroke

Why should this death be investigated?  According to the chief medical examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, “any death that is sudden, unexpected, violent, or where there is allegation of foul play”, is investigated in Virginia. http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/poison-toxic-tales/#page=9 The death of Judge Joseph certainly falls under sudden, unexpected, and allegations of foul play and this is why many feel that it should be investigated.  

Why would the idea of poisoning spring so readily to so many minds after his sudden death?  Students of Haitian history will recall that there were allegations of poisonings by slaves of their masters.  There is, in particular, Mackandal who led a Haitian slave revolt from 1751 through 1757, which foreshadowed the Haitian revolution:  “Mackandal created poisons from island herbs.  He distributed the poison to slaves, who added it to the meals and refreshments they served the French plantation owners and planters…” as part of a “widespread plot to poison the masters, their water supplies and animals.  The movement spread great terror among the slave owners and killed hundreds…” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/François_Mackandal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution This tradition even followed Haitian refugees of the Revolution up to New Orleans.  The slave-owners were not so intelligent as French King Henry IV who “was said to shun served food while at the Louvre, preferring to cook eggs himself and draw his own water from the River Seine.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A4350755 Anyone not preparing or carefully supervising their own food and drink puts themselves at a risk of poisoning.  This is also true in nightclubs, restaurants, etc., where it is safest to only drink from bottles opened under one’s own watchful eyes.  

Why did it spring so quickly to our minds?  We were just reading an old 1994 article by Paul DeRienzo, where he talks about a 1993 speech to the UN, by then exiled President Aristide, regarding Haiti’s role as a transit point for cocaine:  “In a dramatic move, Aristide told the diplomats that the military government of Haiti had to yield the power that was to end Haiti’s role in the drug trade, a trade financed by Colombia’s Cali cartel, that had exploded in the months following the coup.  Aristide told the UN that each year Haiti is the transit point for nearly 50 tons of cocaine worth more than a billion dollars, providing Haiti’s military rulers with $200 million in profits.” Then Senator Kerry headed a subcommittee concerned with international terrorism and drug trafficking that “had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti’s military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul.  The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities….In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift—a bowel of pumpkin soup.  Haitian officials accused Paul’s wife of the murder, apparently because she had been cheated out of her share of a cocaine deal by associates of her husband, who were involved in smuggling through Miami.” http://www.globalresearch.ca/haitis-nightmare-the-cocaine-coup-and-the-cia-connection/5324698  There you go, rather than Lady Macbeth’s Poisoned Possets, it was Poisoned Pumpkin Soup.  Then, of course, as students of Haitian history, we recalled Mackandal.    

Does Haiti have the monopoly on the concept of poisonings?  Certainly not!  There are early written records of poisoning in Egypt dating to 3,000 BC, and Ancient Greece introduced it as a form of capital punishment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A4350755
But, Rome elevated poisoning to a new level of political assassination:  “… one of the more prevalent uses [of poison] was assassination.  As early as 331 BC [Roman Republic], poisonings executed at the dinner table or in drinks were reported, and the practice became a common occurrence.  The use of fatal substances was seen among every social class; … the nobility would often use it to dispose of unwanted political or economic opponents … These poisonings would have been used for self-advantageous reasons in every class of the social order.  The writer Livy describes the poisoning of members of the upper class and nobles of Rome, and Roman emperor Nero is known to have favored the use of poisons on his relatives, even hiring a personal poisoner.  His preferred poison was said to be cyanide … In Medieval Europe, poison became a … popular form of killing  …. This was stimulated by the increased availability of poisons … At approximately the same time, in the Middle East, Arabs developed a form of arsenic that is odorless and transparent, making the poison difficult to detect.  This ‘poison epidemic’ was also prevalent in parts of Asia at this time, as well.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_poison  The Borgia family became well-known for their dinner-party assassinations.  The fashion spread and “By 1572, at least 30,000 self-named poisoner ‘sorcerers’ were running rampant in the streets of Paris.  A poisoner-assassins’ guild called the Council of Ten was established in Italy during the 16th Century by a group of alchemists, to provide ‘elimination’ services for a fee”.  Louis XIV restricted the selling of poisons in 1662. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A4350755

Most interestingly “the capital of conspiracy in Italy was Venice, where the architects of evil were the Council of Ten, a special tribunal created to avert plots and crimes against the state.  To accomplish poisoning, the council would contract with an assassin, usually from another city.  The deed, when done, was paid for through an intermediary.  Funds were readily available for such matters, and the council kept two accountings: one for public dealings and one for those of a private nature.” http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/poison-toxic-tales/#page=11 Which gets to another point:  If the hypothetical scenario, being put forth by some, that Lamothe and Martelly visited the judge, and poisoned him themselves, were true, then that would mean that they really are dumb and dumber.  Notice that the Venetians hired an assassin, usually from another city, and even paid through an intermediary.  And assassins are allegedly very cheap in Haiti.  Someone could have been paid, or forced through threats, to poison the Judge’s food or drink, or to poison him transdermally, even over time. That being said, after Martelly’s cousin, Richard A. Morse, quit Martelly’s administration due to alleged corruption, we wonder about Martelly and Lamothe’s intelligence level.  Either Morse is telling the truth about the corruption, or they made him angry enough to make the allegations, which means that they are blindly arrogant and/or dumb and dumber. They would have to be pretty dumb to visit the Judge themselves and threaten him in person, as well, as is alleged by some.  Did they or didn’t they visit the Judge is another question to which we may never know the answer, it seems.    

Then there is the next obvious question:  Are there poisons, which can induce stroke?  The answer appears to be at least one type.  Not being poison experts, we did a quick search and turned up warfarin and super warfarin, a common medication and rat poison.  We also found that there has been at least one case showing that (super) warfarin, rat poison, can poison through the skin, transdermally, at least over time.  According to Aguilar, et. al. (2007) “Wider use of oral anticoagulants has led to an increasing frequency of warfarin-related intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH)…In contrast to spontaneous ICH, the duration of bleeding is 12 to 24 hours in many patients, offering a longer opportunity for intervention.” http://www.medicine.wisc.edu/~williams/warfarin_ich_treatment.pdf Some of this precious time would have been lost due to the Judge allegedly having to wait 4 hours before being seen by a doctor.  Intracerebral hemorrhage, (ICH) “can be caused by brain trauma, or …can occur spontaneously in hemorrhagic stroke.  Non-traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage is a spontaneous bleeding into the brain tissue.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_hemorrhage It is also easy to imagine that certain drugs or poisons could increase blood pressure to dangerous levels, thus inducing stroke in the short or long-term.  

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

We had intended to delve directly today into the case for which Judge Joseph was responsible.  However, we are shocked that some articles, regarding his death, appear to imply, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that his dying of a stroke and being poisoned are mutually exclusive.  We hope that we have been clear that nothing could be more patently false.  Poisons-toxins kill by impacting various physiological processes and, in fact, are used to better understand physiology.  This is a complex field and this is why there are medical-forensic toxicologists.  

If everything were known about poisoning then the American College of Medical Toxicologists would not have created the Toxicology Investigators Consortium(ToxIC) “International Registry to Advance Understanding of Human Poisoning”.   It was created by ACMT in 2009 “to advance the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge of medical aspects of human poisoning.  Data that is collected includes the clinical syndromes associated with various poisons and venoms and the treatments used to care for poisoned and envenomed patients.”  Furthermore “the data base has since grown dramatically and now provides a valuable reservoir of information on a wide variety of poisonings.  Many exposures not reported prior to initiation of the registry …. are included in the Registry so that more can be learned about the presentations and outcomes of these emerging toxins.  Equally valuable is the opportunity to join clinicians across the country and pool their experience to enhance opportunities for research and greater understanding of less common poisonings …”  It appears that if everything were known about poisoning then this International Registry to “advance collaboration, education, and research among physicians specializing in the management of human poisoning globally.” would not be necessary.  Everything is not known. http://acmt.net/_Library/Press_Releases/ACMTCreatesIntlRegistry032613.pdf

Although we feel that Judge Joseph was under adequate stress to die of “natural” causes, there still remains the possibility of poisoning.  While there are many poisons, and even medical toxicologists are still learning about them, we will return to our example of pwazon rat (rat poison).  Because rats and mice became resistant to warfarin, super warfarin is often or always used as rat poison.  For those who do not know how rat poison works:  essentially they die of internal bleeding.  And, recall that rats and mice are used for medical testing.  In the 1991 article “Superwarfarin Ingestion and Detection” (American Journal of Hematology 36:  50-54), Charles R. Routh et. al.  discuss difficulties that they had, at the time, in finding a lab able to do plasma analysis of superwarfarin (Brodifacoum).  Even with treatment, a patient is documented as having died of Brodifacoum overdose due to “massive CNS [Central Nervous System] bleed”. http://bmhlibrary.info/1984683.pdf

There is also the issue of synergistic effects of drugs, which is one instance, where one plus one is not necessarily equal to two.  Since it has been alleged that Judge Joseph was given alcohol, we note the synergistic effect of alcohol with warfarin, which would hold true for superwarfarin, as well:  “Acute alcohol intake may increase anticoagulation … by decreasing warfarin metabolism” http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-1/40-54.pdf In other words, alcohol increases the blood thinning activity of warfarin.  Blood which is too thin is dangerous, as we have seen, and could lead to stroke.  This also means that warfarin or super-warfarin could be life-threatening at lower levels, when combined with alcohol.  

We are very concerned about the autopsy. Unless something has changed radically, there used to be more Haitian doctors practicing medicine in Canada than in Haiti. And, many well-to-do Haitians live in Canada. This introduces a potential source of bias in the autopsy results. Additionally, according to Wikipedia, Canada is one of the rare nations where an autopsy can be done without even cutting open the body. Rather, sometimes they only examine the body externally. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopsy And, even in countries where the body is always cut open, the autopsy is not necessarily thorough.  This author once witnessed an autopsy of a patient who had complained of leg pain.  There was a mad rush of pathologists to the room, because none had seen an autopsy which included cutting the legs open. No joke. The patient had died in the psychiatric ward because she complained of leg pain, and since they could find no cause, they declared her crazy.  And, guess what?  Her legs were full of clots, like clusters of grapes and one had broken off and gone to her lungs and killed her.  Had the lead pathologist not had the intelligence to examine an apparently rarely autopsied part of the body, the cause of death would have remained unknown.  Now this is not about poisoning, but it does clearly show the fallibility of doctors and of the important choices which must be made in an autopsy.       

The American College of Medical Toxicologists notes that “Poisoning can happen in many different ways, and the consequences can range from nearly instant collapse to an increased risk of disease decades later.” http://acmt.net/_Library/Press_Releases/ACMT_Prepares_Physician_Poisoning_Experts_for_Board_Certification_08_09_12.pdf One author remarks that “poisoning is often recorded as a heart attack or accident.”  Katherine Ramsland states that “For many centuries, poisoning has been a popular method of murder.  One reason is that almost any natural substance in the right dose can be poisonous, and many poisons mimic common medical diseases, leading physicians to believe a victim died of natural causes.”  [Now, this is abundantly clear:  “many poisons mimic common medical diseases, leading physicians to believe a victim died of natural causes”.  The journalists reporting on Judge Joseph’s death need to get this clear in their minds.]  She continues:  “Toxicology is important not just for an investigation in which foul play is suspected.   It is equally essential for determining accidental deaths and suicides … She cites Dr. Robert Middleberg of National Medical Services …. as saying that ‘The American Chemistry Society has said there are about 21 million registered compounds”.  NMS tests for more than 3,000 of these 21 million compounds.  Dr. Middleberg “suspects the number of poisonings each year are underestimated.”  [Although we are not told how many of the 21 million compounds are toxic, you don’t have to be too good in math to realize that this means that there are well over 20 million compounds for which they do not test.  And, Katherine Ramsland is not the first to argue that almost anything can be toxic, given the right quantity or conditions.] Ramsland elaborates:  “While toxicologists need ‘symptoms, signs, and a good case history’ to narrow down the diverse range of possible substances suspected in a death, sometimes it becomes a matter of systematically eliminating them by category.” http://www.denied-justice.com/index.html ,
http://www.denied-justice.com/poisonvictimcasefiles.html In other words, getting a clear answer can be difficult.  And, it is one of many reasons that not everyone will be satisfied with the results of Judge Joseph’s autopsy. [The above links are to the web site of a lady who is still trying to get justice for the apparent poisoning of her son.  There is also an interesting video about the case, which helps clarify the complexities of this topic.]  

Of course, there is one more problem:  even if the poisoning of Judge Joseph were to be proved, we do not see how anyone can ever prove who poisoned him.  Nor, if the person who poisoned him was hired or forced to do so.     

Friday, 26 July 2013


According to Radio Kiskeya, Judge Joseph’s brother favors the theory of poisoning.  We have translated the report of their interview with Fritz Joseph on Thursday, July 25, 2013: 

The brother of Judge Serge Joseph does not accept that he died of a stroke.  He promises to soon furnish the proof that the Magistrate held a meeting with some officials.    

The Judge Jean Serge Joseph certainly did not die of a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) declared his older brother, Fritz Joseph, on Kiskeya Radio, on Thursday, speaking by telephone from New Jersey (USA).  While clarifying that the autopsy report of the Magistrate’s remains is not yet in his possession, Mr. Joseph still implicitly made known that he disposes of evidence permitting him to favor the thesis of poisoning.  Asked to be more precise on the subject, Mr. Joseph, who was about to leave for Canada, where he lives and where the body was taken, promised to explain soon.  

On the matter of the meeting, in which the Judge participated with the President, the Prime Minister and other officials at the Law Offices of Mr. Louis Gary Lissade in Bourdon, Fritz Joseph maintains that it was most certainly held. He showed himself particularly severe to the Chief Justice of the Civil Court of the capital, Raymond Jean-Michel who, he says, has revealed himself to be the worst of individuals, in not having demonstrated the courage to admit that it was he who drove his brother to the “meeting”.  Presenting himself as the mentor of his deceased brother, Fritz Joseph estimates that his brother must have held the Judge Jean-Michel in more respect (than he does) given that despite the fact that Fritz Joseph advised his brother not to go to the meeting, he was unable to convince him otherwise.  

Making reference to the impressive possibilities offered today by the Iphone 4, Fritz Joseph promised, without much precision, to soon furnish proof that the meeting was held and that the Chief Justice Jean-Michel was instrumental in its occurrence.  Mr. Joseph was not in the position to indicate the date of the Judge’s funeral.  

The Examining Magistrate, Jean Serge Joseph, who was in charge of the corruption allegation case file of the presidential family, died, apparently of a cerebrovascular accident in the night of Saturday, 13 July, less than 48 hours after having taken part in a “meeting” with the President, Prime Minister and other officials, according to several of his friends, colleagues and relatives to whom he made revelations before dying.  The President, the Minister of Justice and Mr. Louis Gary Lissade have formally denied to have participated in any such meeting with the judge.   [jmd/RK]  Original in French here: http://www.radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article9685

We wonder if the brother really meant that Judge Joseph did not die of a stroke or that he did not die by one accidentally?  Did he simply mean that he didn’t die of natural causes? We wish that everyone would get clear on this topic! Rather than a cerebrovascular accident, it was a cerebrovascular on purpose, so to speak? What does it mean which it says that Fritz Joseph implicitly made known that he disposes of evidence permitting him to favor the thesis of poisoning?  Why does it not say explicitly?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Defend Haiti-The Sentinel has also published their understanding of the Thursday interview with Judge Joseph’s brother, done by Radio Kiskeya.  One major point on which they seem to differ, from the Radio Kiskeya written report, is that they say “F. Joseph did not make any declarations during the Radio Kiskeya interview that would suggest his brother was murdered but says he is awaiting the results of an autopsy, currently being undertaken in Canada.”  See their entire article, in English, here: http://www.defend.ht/news/articles/community/4834-haiti-brother-of-dead-judge-says-meeting-lissade-s-office-did-occur

Radio Kiskeya has now placed the interview, in Creole, on youtube:

We think that the difference in this interpretation is not so great as it might appear.  Although our Creole is unfortunately not at 100 percent, we do concur that he did not explicitly say that he was murdered. However, he characterized Chief Judge Raymond Jean-Michel, who is said have had Judge Joseph go to a meeting at Gary Lissade’s office, without security, as criminal. And, later in the interview, he calls him a “vagabond” (vicious in moral character), who should admit that he had Judge Joseph go to this meeting.  Judge Joseph trusted him and it appears that the trust was undeserved.  He also calls it a bizarre thing — we aren’t sure if Chief Judge Jean-Michel’s having insisted that he go to the meeting was strange or his not confessing to have done so.  Perhaps the whole situation.  The brother clearly stated that Judge Joseph did not have symptoms of a stroke.  And, that, from our understanding, it should not have been announced as a stroke, until the autopsy was completed.  The autopsy and toxicology study have been done in Canada.  We believe that it is the combination of Fritz Joseph saying that Judge Jean-Michel’s behavior was criminal, and that the whole thing was bizarre, which was probably interpreted by Radio Kiskeya staff as implicitly supporting the poisoning thesis.  It certainly sounds like something is being hidden.  Additional things may have been said, implying poisoning, which we did not understand.  But, it is clear that the term poison or poisoned itself was not used.  As well, even if he wanted to explicitly say that his brother was murdered, he probably would not be able to do so on legal grounds.  It is also possible that Radio Kiskeya did not air the entire interview and that their report was based on the entire interview, whereas the Defend Haiti report is based on the audio above. We will have to wait and see.  


The most interesting point of all, however, is the brother’s insistence that Judge Joseph attended a meeting at Gary Lissade’s office, due to the insistence of Chief Judge Jean-Michel, who Judge Joseph trusted.  He says that with the modern technology of the Iphone that he will soon provide proof and leaves us with the impression that either Judge Joseph recorded the proceedings at Gary Lissade’s office or that brother Fritz Joseph recorded Judge Joseph as saying that he attended such a meeting.  If that is true, this should soon be very interesting.  The meeting is said, in the Defend Haiti article, and elsewhere, to have been to drop the corruption case against the First Family. 

With concerned kin living outside of Haiti, hopefully more will be known soon.  According to AlterPresse, the Haitian Senate Inquest Committee will submit the report of their investigation into Judge Joseph’s death, after the Carnival of Flowers, which ends on July 30th. http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article14919#.UfIU4MsaySM We assume that this means next week.  

If this meeting took place, we favor the theory that Judge Joseph was literally scared to death. This is physiologically possible — in the short term or in the longer term. In the short term from adrenaline and in the longer term immune suppression, and likely possible from stress-adrenaline longer term. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=scared-to-death-heart-attack Research has shown, for instance, that if you tell someone they have a fatal illness and are going to die, they often will, even with no illness. Their entire immune system just shuts down and they die. Imagine too, if this meeting really took place at Gary Lissade’s office with President Martelly, Prime Minister Lamothe, and others, as alleged.  And, if Judge Joseph was “brow-beaten”, intimidated, out-numbered, and perhaps threatened or his family threatened.  He was apparently a man of great courage, or he would have run and hidden in Canada, when handed this case, but he appears in pictures as most likely physically small, and gentle.  He seems to have been a trusting soul.  Here you would have a small gentle man vs. Lamothe and Martelly, who may or may not be mafia thugs, but they certainly look and carry themselves like thugs, and have allegedly kept company with thugs.  They are also used to getting their way in life.  There were allegedly others there, as well.  Would this be a fair meeting?  Judge Joseph didn’t even have security, according to his brother.  Would it not be terrifying, even to the most courageous? Is scaring someone to death murder? Additionally, if Judge Joseph weighed as little, as we suspect he did, then he would also be more easily poisoned or given a drug overdose.


For those who wonder why we are harping on about this case:    it is clear that the current Haitian administration will continue to practice lack of transparency about mining in Haiti, and to ignore parliamentary and other concerns about it.  While this government is in place, we are just wasting our time and energy to even discuss mining in Haiti.  Only to the extent that what we write has been able to help other people, in other countries, has it appeared worthwhile.  And, the information will be there whenever there are elections and a new administration in Haiti– if it is not too late.  Will a new administration be better?  If the most popular party is allowed to run in elections, we might possibly get their ear.  It is clear that Haiti will be hard pressed to get a worse government, as far as the mining situation goes.  This case of the death of Judge Joseph does have the potential to lead to a change of government.  Especially this alleged meeting at Gary Lissade’s office, which is said to have included Prime Minister Lamothe, is surely enough to bring him down.  And, a new Prime Minister may be sufficient to improve things.  In the words of Pope Jean-Paul II, thirty years ago:  Fok sa chanje.  Things must change.  We would add:  Dechukaj is not finished.  The neo-Duvalierists must still be uprooted and overturned from their thrones.  

Sunday, 27 July 2013 


We have translated yesterday’s article in La Presse newspaper, a major Montreal daily, below.  It states clearly that the Quebec Coroner’s office has done an autopsy.  We are not sure if they are doing a full inquest or not.  Regardless, there will, most likely, be a long wait before the official report comes out.  According to the Quebec Coroner’s Office:  “it is necessary to count, on average, 9 months from the start of an investigation before the coroner’s report is ready”. http://www.coroner.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/depliant_investigation_enquete_coroner.pdf

“The death of a Canadian-Haitian Judge Raises Doubts”, by Étienne Coté-Paluck and Philippe Mercure, 27 July 2013, La Presse, newspaper, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
French original: http://www.lapresse.ca/international/amerique-latine/201307/27/01-4674640-le-deces-dun-juge-canado-haitien-souleve-des-doutes.php
[Summary:]  The Office of the Coroner of Quebec investigates the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph, a Canadian citizen of Haitian origin, deceased in Port-au-Prince the 13 July.  Three other inquests were started in Haiti to cast light on the death of the Magistrate, who was looking into the allegations of corruption targetting the spouse and son of Haitian President Michel Martelly.  

[Text:] The Office of the Coroner confirmed yesterday to La Presse that an autopsy was carried out on Thursday in Montreal on the body of the Magistrate. “Information indicating that it could be a question of a death occurring in unclear circumstances” convinced the coroner to look into the case.  

In Haiti, some Deputies qualify the death as “suspicious”.  Someone close to the Judge affirmed to La Presse that the 58 year old Magistrate was subjected to important political pressures two days before his death, during a meeting in which President Martelly notably participated.  “He was visibly very panicked and very stressed, he was an upset (distressed) man”, according to the lawyer Samuel Madistin, who affirms having met the judge shortly after that meeting.  

The family explained that they asked for an autopsy in order to get to the bottom of the situation (to have peace of mind).  “There are all sorts of suspicions, it is a situation which is still very volatile in Haiti.  It is necessary to clarify this affair so that all of the family has a clear and precise idea of what happened,” a nephew of Judge Joseph, who lives in Montreal, who demanded that his name not be used, confided to La Presse.  The Administration of the private hospital in Port-au-Prince where Jean Serge Joseph passed away, declared during a press conference that the judge died of a cerebral vascular accident.  According to his brother, Pierre Joseph, the official death certificate also mentions this cause.  The family of the judge, who was born in Haiti, but who passed a large part of his life in Montreal, had his body repatriated to Quebec last Monday.  Following this, they demanded that the Coroner’s Office do an autopsy.  

In Haiti, the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the Superior Council of the Judiciary have all three started investigations after the judge’s death. “Without a doubt, this death is suspicious”, the Deputy Sadrac Dieudonné, who presides the inquest started by the Chamber of Deputies, said yesterday.  “The case that the Judge was dealing with had to do with the Presidential Family and we have several testimonies from people who affirm that the judge confided in them, before his death, where the political pressures which he had to suffer were mentioned.  According to them, the political pressures could be the cause of his death.  Our work is to verify the truthfulness of these allegations.”  The entourage of the President denies that pressure was exercised on the Magistrate and alleges that opponents are attempting to use his disappearance “for political ends.”  The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada did not want to say if he will demand explanations on the death of the Canadian and refused to respond to all questions dealing with the case.  The Minister limited himself to saying “Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased”.  Much ink has flowed over this affair in Haiti and it even set off demonstrations that caused two deaths, according to information reported by the local media.  

“The most important for me currently is to assure the security of everyone,” confided the nephew of the judge who is based in Montreal. I asked my grandmother [the mother of the judge] to leave Haiti and she is currently in the United States”.  According to the brother of the deceased, Pierre Joseph, the Judge Jean Serge Joseph left Haiti for Montreal in 1972, when he was still an adolescent.  He did his studies in law at UQAM [University of Quebec at Montreal] before returning to the country of his birth in the mid 1990s.  “For the moment, we know nothing” said Mr. Joseph to La Presse.  “We don’t understand what happened.  He was in good health, but we cannot say that this or that happened”.  “To be a Magistrate in Haiti, that exposes one to a lot of risk”, he added.  “And not only in Haiti:  everywhere.”  

Timeline of events [According to La Presse]:
2 July 2013 – Judge Jean Serge Joseph ordered the Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, and several high-ranking officials to appear in court.  The Magistrate was thus charged with casting light on allegations of misappropriation of public funds (embezzlement) and of corruption targetting Sophia and Olivier Martelly, the wife and son of President Michel Martelly.
13 July 2013 – The Judge Jean Serge Joseph  was admitted in emergency in a private hospital of Port-au-Prince.  He died there several hours later.  
16 July 2013 – The Superior Council of the Haitian Judiciary started an inquest into the allegation of pressures suffered by the Judge before his death.  
19 July 2013 – According to the Haitian media, demonstrations linked to the death of Judge Joseph resulted in two deaths and seven wounded in the Commune of Estere, near Gonaives, from whence Judge Joseph originated.
22 July 2013 – The body of Jean Serge Joseph was repatriated to Montreal by his family.  
25 July 2013- The Office of the Coroner of Quebec did an autopsy on the body http://www.lapresse.ca/international/amerique-latine/201307/27/01-4674640-le-deces-dun-juge-canado-haitien-souleve-des-doutes.php

Monday, 29 July 2013

We have been unable to turn up something concrete regarding the time for the toxicology study to come back.  For at least some substances it is, indeed, weeks.  We imagine that people need to sit down for awhile and take off their hats, because there is probably going to be a long wait.  As indicated yesterday, it takes, on average, 9 months for the official coroner’s report to be completed in Quebec. By then the media frenzy will likely be over.  Hopefully the results will not pass unnoticed.  That roughly correlates to the 10 months time, which it took to know the cause of death of Police Senior Superintendent, Dathan Henry, in Jamaica, who was poisoned with rat poison.     

While seeking an answer to the question of how long it takes for the toxicology report came back we found several things.  Firstly we found this from the Society of Forensic Toxicologists:  What is Forensic Toxicology?  “Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of drugs and chemicals on biological systems.  Forensic toxicology deals with the application of toxicology to cases and issues where those adverse effects have administrative or medicolegal consequences, and where the results are likely to be used in court.  Forensic toxicology is a modern science, based on published and widely  accepted scientific methods and  practices, for both analysis of drugs in biological materials, and interpretation of those results.” http://www.soft-tox.org/files/SOFT_Brochure_(2013).pdf


The more interesting thing we found was a poisoning case in nearby Jamaica.  A Police Senior Superintendent, Dathan Henry, died, a little over a year ago, on the 6th of May, 2012.  He was, indeed, poisoned with rat poison — some say a rodenticide mixture and others say warfarin.  However, for the initial post-mortem his death was ruled inconclusive.  The toxicology report was said to have been handed over to the relevant authorities in August.  However, in September, the Superintendent of the Major Investigation Task Force stated that “SSP Henry’s death is unexplained and we are still interviewing persons who we believe can assist in this case. We are still waiting on the toxicology report”. http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20120914/news/news1.html But, the public was not told that he was poisoned until March of this year, i.e. approximately 10 months later. http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130320/news/news2.html http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=43235 http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Toxicology-report–Senior-police-superintendent-died-from-poisoning_13776502 See also: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120507/lead/lead4.html

While it is obvious that he was poisoned due to his successful crackdown on gangs and the related violence, by September, within months of his death, rumors were spread that he was poisoned by a lover:  “Amid fears that a senior cop who died earlier this year may have been poisoned, there is even more speculation that he was probably given a potion by one of his disgruntled lovers, The Weekend Star understands.” http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20120914/news/news1.html http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Toxicology-report–Senior-police-superintendent-died-from-poisoning_13776502
No-one should be surprised if the true culprits decide to spread such vicious rumors about Judge Joseph, as well, in the event his death were to be ruled a poisoning.  

Not surprisingly either, no one has been brought to justice.  Once again, if a poisoning were proved for Judge Joseph, we can probably expect a scenario similar to the Dathan Henry case.  A concerned citizen expressed his concerns in a June 22, 2013 letter to the editor of the Jamaica Observer, entitled “What’s happening with the Former SSP Dathan Henry’s Murder Case?”:  “Dear Editor,  May 6, 2013 marked one year since the former Clarendon Chief Senior Superintendent of Police Dathan Henry died in hospital after a brief illness.  Clarendon, and by extension Jamaica, was sent into frenzy when news of his unexpected death broke.  Some persons even had to seek counselling as the man described by many as charismatic, trustworthy and a people person was suddenly dead.  It was later confirmed through toxicological analysis that poisoning by a mixture of chemicals found in rodenticides was the cause of his death.  The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later advised that a coroner’s inquest was to be conducted.  It still remains a mystery as to how the poison got into the system of the former SSP.  Those who knew him are aware that he did not eat from just anyone; only those he considered close to him or as it related to functions where his duties as Clarendon’s chief of police took him.  So how, when and where was former SSP Dathan Henry poisoned and, more importantly, by whom? What was the real motive for his killing and who benefited from his death? What could former SSP Dathan Henry possibly have done to deserve such a slow and painful death?  It is my hope that the truth and only the truth be told regarding the death of former SSP Dathan Henry who, during his tenure, worked assiduously with his team to reduce crime in Clarendon and improve the confidence of the business community in the police.  He provided an avenue for the residents of Clarendon to have dialogue with him regarding any matter, and persons were always sure that SSP Henry would have held their confidence.  He was hailed as a trustworthy crime fighter who always found the time to speak with persons.  Lest we forget, Dathan Henry worked hard during his 27 years in the force.  He did not deserve to die by poisoning.  To the persons investigating former SSP Henry’s death, we are waiting patiently for an arrest(s) to be made.  After all, if former SSP Dathan Henry could have been so easily killed, are any of us really safe?” http://m. jamaicaobserver. com/letters/What-s-happening-with-former-SSP-Dathan-Henry-s-murder-case-_14547924 One can easily imagine such a letter being written regarding Judge Joseph.  

What is the likelihood that if Judge Joseph were poisoned by rat poison, or any other substance, that it would still be in his system?  It would have to do with the half life of the substance in his body, and how long after poisoning he died.  Also, it would depend on the sensitivity of the tests. According to a New Zealand governmental document, in humans, the half life of Warfarin is 15 to 58 hours and of Brodifacoum (“Superwarfarin”)is 16 to 36 hours in blood plasma. Furthermore:  “The latent period between the time of ingestion and the onset of clinical signs varies considerably and in possums may take as long as 1 to 4 weeks (Littin et al. 2000).  In rats the onset of symptoms and death usually occur within a week.  Clinical signs reflect some manifestations of haemorrhage.  Onset of signs may occur suddenly; this is especially true when haemorrhage of the cerebral vasculature or pericardial sac occur.  Generalised haemorrhage is frequently evident at post-mortem.  Areas commonly affected are the thoracic cavity, subcutaneous tissue, stomach, and intestine.  The heart is sometimes rounded and flaccid with subepicardial and subendocardial haemorrhages.  Histomorphological analysis of the liver may reveal centrilobular necrosis as a result of anaemia and hypoxia.  In possums, post-mortem findings range from mild to moderate haemorrhage in some limbs and in the gastrointestinal tract, to extensive haemorrhage throughout the body and major organs.  A single ingestion of 1 mg/kg is usually sufficient to kill.” http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/docts23b.pdf If the same holds for humans, then if, for instance, Judge Joseph weighed 60 kg, then it would have taken 60 mg of poison to kill him, if the poison were given in one dose.  If the half-life were on the low end of 15 hours, then in 15 hrs, 30 mg would remain; in 30 hrs, 15 mg would remain; in 45 hrs, 7.5 mg; 60 hrs, 3.75 mg; in 75 hrs, 1.87 mg, etc. Rat poisons work by thinning the blood, so the effect is not immediate. (For more detail see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_K_antagonist ) And, if he were poisoned, it could have been over time.  Whether or not it can be traced in the blood would seem to depend upon dosage; time of onset of illness-death, after the poisoning occurred; sensitivity of the tests, and if the death is suspicious enough that it is investigated.  Dosage needed to poison is related to weight, as well as individual biochemistry, and other factors, such as alcohol consumption.  Notice that they were able to trace the death of the Police Superintendent to rat poison, due to pre and post-mortem samples. Additionally, since “Generalised haemorrhage is frequently evident at post-mortem,” they may be able to guess cause of death without finding rat poison in the blood plasma. Although this was written about animals, it would almost certainly be true of humans, as well. And, hopefully they will catch the culprit. For those concerned about the poor possums, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possum

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


The following is from a Quebec Coroner’s Office Informational Pamphlet entitled Investigation and Inquest by the coroner: http://www.coroner.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/depliant_investigation_enquete_coroner.pdf  (NB:  Quebec is a French speaking province within officially bilingual Canada; Translation is our own)  

“What is the function of the Coroner?”:  “The law on the investigation into the causes and circumstances of deaths foresees that the coroner intervenes in all cases of violent or unclear [‘obscurs’] deaths which occur in Quebec, such as accidents, suicides, homicides or when the probable medical cause is unknown, in order to:  determine the causes and circumstance of a death all while investigating if the death could have been avoided … inform the public as to the causes and circumstances of the death”.  [Recall that according to La Presse, 27 July 2013:  “Information indicating that it could be a question of a death occurring in unclear circumstances’ convinced the coroner to look into the case.”  Here, the Coroner also used the term ‘obscures’, which we translated as unclear.  It still seems that it would be an unusual case because the law says that the coroner investigates “obscurs” deaths  “which occur in Quebec”, whereas Judge Joseph died in Haiti.  Certainly, however, there are many Haitians in Montreal who would like to be informed “as to the causes and circumstances” of his death.] 

“Investigation vs. Inquest:  The investigation is a private proceeding through which the coroner collects information needed to exercise his functions.  The inquest is a proceeding through which pertinent information and the facts are presented to the coroner during public hearings./  “Attention!  The coroner is not a judge.  Contrary to a judge who rules on a litigation between parties and makes a decision, the corner investigates in order to discover the causes and circumstance of death with the goal of preventing other similar deaths.  Nonetheless, he holds certain powers like judges, in order to assure that the research unfolds in an equitable manner./   “The coroner can not determine if a person is responsible or not in virtue of the law, because that is the role of the courts.  Nonetheless, the coroner should indicate in his report if he thinks that a person or an organization should have acted differently or if he believes that a situation should be corrected by actions or by the adoption or the modification of laws and regulations.”  

“Investigation:  What does a coroner do in an investigation?  During an investigation, the coroner does several things.  Thus, he
1.  Takes possession of the body and returns it
During a period of several hours to several days, the body is under the authority of the coroner.  This last shall see, thus to:
determine the identity of the deceased person;
examine the body himself or ask a doctor to do it; 
ask that an autopsy be done in a hospital environment or at the Laboratory of Judicial Sciences and Legal Medicine in Montreal;
demand, as needed, toxicological analyses;
return the body to the family so that they can dispose of it.
2.  Gather information.  The coroner can take possession of objects or of documents and demand that the police do an investigation by meeting individuals in order to obtain information permitting him to cast a light on the causes and circumstances of the death.  
3.  Produce an investigation report.  
When he has in hand all of the information surrounding the death, the coroner produces a report, which is a public document
4.  Transmit to the Chief Coroner his report and the documents which are complementary to the report.  When the report is completed, the coroner transmits to the archives of the Chief coroner the original of his report and all of the documents which were useful in his investigation (autopsy report, police investigation, toxicology report, medical files, etc.)”

“Inquest:  Why do certain cases require a public inquest?  The Chief Coroner orders an inquest when it becomes necessary and useful to question under oath, during a public hearing, individuals who can furnish information of a nature to illuminate the coroner.  What are the steps of a public inquest?  The steps of a public inquest are the following:
Preparation:  Assisted by his prosecutor, the coroner collects and analyses information.  He proceeds, as well, in identifying witnesses and experts who will come to testify.
Public Hearing:  Public presentation, before the coroner, of the information, documents, testimony and findings of expert witnesses
Writing of the public report:  Assessment of the facts and recommendations of the coroner, if there are any, are recorded once the hearing is over.” / “How does a hearing unfold?  The inquest unfolds in a hearing room.  The witnesses present themselves, one by one, before the coroner.  The law permits the coroner and his prosecutor to ask all questions which could be useful.  The interested persons, often represented by lawyers, can also ask questions such that all pertinent information which the witnesses hold should be presented to the coroner.  There exists no procedure or particular rule of proof, as is the case in a Civil or Criminal trial.  No one is on trial during the coroner’s inquest.”  [Rather the coroner] “decides which information is pertinent and he can intervene at any moment during the hearing.  The coroner should be just and equitable at each instant.” http://www.coroner.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/depliant_investigation_enquete_coroner.pdf As we have already mentioned the Coroner’s report is public but “it is necessary to allow, on average, nine months from the beginning of the investigation before the coroner’s report is ready”.  How to order it is also included in the pamphlet.  

Thursday, 1 August 2013


In the 2nd of July hearing, Judge Joseph issued a roll call of almost 20 witnesses, who he wished to have appear to testify in the Sophia and Oliver Martelly cases. The Law 400 of the Criminal Code, to which Judge Joseph referred, means that the judge cannot order high level governmental officials to appear as witnesses without a special executive order:  Chapter V- The Manner in which the Depositions of Certain State Officials  shall be received in Criminal, Correctional and Police Matters.  C.f. 510; C.h. 389 Art. 400.- High Level State Officials can never be called as witnesses, even for debates that are held in the presence of a jury, except in the case where the President of Haiti, on the request of a party and the report of the Secretary of State of Justice, will have, by special order, authorized that appearance.  – Proc. civ. 78.- Inst. crim. 18, 58, 67, 251, 401 et suiv. (translation our own) http://www.oas.org/juridico/mla/fr/hti/fr_hti_mla_instruction.html

The Nouvelliste, Haiti’s oldest and largest daily newspaper, reported on the July 2, 2013 hearing (translation our own):
“National – Court:  Sophia and Olivier Martelly Case
High Ranking State Officials have been called to testify before the court.  Le Nouvelliste, published 2 July 2013, by Jean-Robert Fleury.

The public prosecutor’s case against Sophia St. Remy Martelly and her son Olivier Martelly, both accused of usurpation of function in a case brought by Enold Florestal, continued on Tuesday July 2 in criminal court.  The parties were present at the open hearing shortly after noon (12:20).  The criminal court, presided over by Judge Jean Serge Joseph, decided by interlocutory judgement (un jugement avant dire droit) to order the Public Prosecutor (ministere public) to undertake all legal and necessary measures to permit the appearances, as witnesses, of Ministers and General Directors of the Lamothe government, conforming to Article 400 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CIC), given that witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice.  The testimony of these witnesses is important to elucidate the truth.  The court therefore granted the request of the plaintiff.  It had sought an order requiring the Minister of Justice to take all necessary steps so that the President could authorize the appearance, as witnesses, of High Ranking Civil Servants, such as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, Laurent Lamothe; the Minister of Economy and Finance and of Commerce, Wilson Laleau; the Minister of Agriculture, Jacques Thomas; the Minister of Public Health and of Population, Ms. Florence Duperval Guillaume; the Governor of the Central Bank, Charles Castel [and others]. After three hours of hearings, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.  This decision will be executed at the behest of the prosecutor of Port-au-Prince, who is responsible for forwarding it to the Minister of Justice and of Public Safety, who in turn will transmit it to the President of the Republic, Michel Martelly, for execution.  We must underline that the prosecution had required the court to give the plaintiff communication of the summons of the witnesses, as well as the special order of the President of the Republic authorizing the appearance of the High Ranking State Officials, as witnesses, at a correctional hearing, soon.  For its part, the defendant party, represented by Jean Patrick Vandal, made a request for access to documents, notably the official documents relative to travel of the First Lady on the behalf of several Ministries and to the activities of Olivier Martelly which have to do with sums of money placed at his disposal for the construction of several mini-stadiums in the ten Departments of the country.  According to the defense, if the plaintiff does not have and does not communicate these official documents, the request must be rejected and any hearing must be denied.  And, the judge ruled.  The plaintiff represented by Mr. André Michel and Newton St-Juste, qualify the decision of Judge Jean Serge Joseph, as historic.  He rendered an interlocutory judgement conforming to Article 400 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CIC).  Recall that the last hearing was held on June 18, during which the court had ordered a continuance in two weeks at the request of the plaintiff.  The latter had pointed out to the court that the judgment by the Parquet (prosecution) did not have the Findings (Conclusions) of the parties.  There was only the disposition and the name of the parties.  This is what was at the center of debate and the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.” http://lenouvelliste.com/article4.php?newsid=118627 The last points seem to refer to “Findings” (Conclusions) as in French Civil procedure where “in so-called ‘written’ (where representation by a barrister or solicitor is required) procedures, only the arguments and requests made in writing can be judged by the court.” http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conclusions_en_procédure_civile_français

The list of names of potential witnesses, given in the Nouvelliste is incomplete. Either they thought it was unimportant to list them, or they were among those rushing to the door, while the judge was still reading the names. We are trying to assemble a complete list. We believe that the witnesses requested by Judge Joseph are of critical importance. As well, we hope to discuss more about the Law 400. However, the Flower Carnival ended on the 30th so the Parliamentary Inquest into Judge Joseph’s death could come at any time, since it was promised for after the Carnival.
TO BE CONTINUED SOON. CONTINUATION-UPDATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN THE ONGOING SAGA: NEWS, UPDATES… https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-ongoing-saga-news-updates-tidbits-trivia/
Haitian journalists are so very energetic about political topics that it is hard to keep up with them. We wish they were more energetic about mining. We have many other posts on the mining topic waiting in line to be posted, as some of you will recall.