*US Suceed in Bribing Haitian Officials...Kidnappers Released* (did US threaten sanctions against the country, I wonder?
The U.S. and Haitian governments are holding *talks* on the fate of 10 American missionaries accused of illegally trying to take children out of the quake-hit Caribbean country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
Haitian authorities said they would decide today whether to pursue a case against the missionaries, who were arrested on Friday trying to cross into the Dominican Republic with a busload of 33 children they said were orphaned by the quake.
In Washington, Clinton said for the first time the two governments were discussing the case, diplomatically sensitive because the U.S. is heading a massive relief operation after the earthquake wrecked the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed up to 200,000 people.
The State Department, which has been at pains to avoid any impression it might be interfering in the matter, said Tuesday it had not been involved in any broad discussions about the missionaries' case or any possible prosecution.
The accused missionaries vehemently deny they were engaged in child trafficking.
They said they were just trying to help some of the thousands of orphans left destitute and abandoned by the quake.
"It was unfortunate, whatever the motivation, that this group of Americans took matters into their own hands," Clinton said.
Haitian officials said the detained Americans, most of whom belong to an Idahobased Baptist church, had no documents proving the children were orphans and no official permission to take them out of the country, which meant the group faced possible kidnapping charges.
The missionaries were questioned by a judge Tuesday and Wednesday, the prosecutor in the case, Mazarre Fortil, said. "Tomorrow, my decision will be known. Tomorrow, everybody will know what we decide," Fortil said.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said on Wednesday the case was stealing attention from the plight of Haitians.