Judge likely to rule on release of U.S. missionaries jailed in Haiti

 @ibtimes on February 11 2010 11:53 AM

A judge in Haiti is likely to make a decision on Thursday on whether to release the group of U.S. missionaries arrested in connection with allegedly attempting to kidnap Haitian children.

Gary Lassade, a defense lawyer, said he expected the judge to issue a final decision today, the Associated Press reports. The judge, Bernard Saint-Vit, will determine if the missionaries will have to face trial or drop the charges.

The prosecutor could appeal if the judge recommended dropping charges, but the judge has the last say, Lassade said, according to the news agency.

On February 4, ten U.S. missionaries most of whom belong to a Baptist church in Idaho, were charged with kidnapping 33 Haitian children and criminal association. The missionaries were taken to a jail in Port-au-Prince that day.

The missionaries were arrested on Jan 29. for trying to take the group of children across the border with the Dominican Republic.

They claimed they were trying to help the children by taking them from Haiti to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, following the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti.

However, Haitian authorities stated the group did not have proper documentation and authorization to take the children out of the country.

A separate report from the AFP says that a decision from the judge will not be made until five more working days. The report states that the judge is scheduled to continue interviews with the missionaries' parents on Thursday.

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