MIAMI, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Two former Haitian military officers began serving sentences Tuesday for leading a murderous raid in 1994 in which 26 unarmed civilians, including women and children, were gunned down or beaten to death.
Carl Dorelien and Herbert Valmond have been deported after living in Florida since Jean-Bertrand Aristide regained power following the killings of his followers in the poor seaside neighborhood of Raboteau.
Valmond, 52, has been living in Tampa, Fla., and Doelien, 53, resided in Port St. Lucie, where he won $3.2 million in the Florida lottery in 1997.
The two men were convicted in absentia in Haiti and Monday were flown to the country aboard a U.S. government plane to serve lengthy sentences. Both could seek another trial.
"The United States is not a safe haven," said James Goldman of Miami, a chief investigator for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which began targeting human rights violators in 2000.
"You cannot commit crimes and atrocities against humankind somewhere in the world and then live happily ever after in the United States," Goldman said.
Dorelien, a former colonel who was part of the group that ousted Aristide, and Valmond, a former lieutenant colonel, are the highest-ranking officers to be deported under the program.
About 45 suspects have been arrested by immigration officers, and 25 of those have been deported to various countries. They include government officials as well as military personnel.
"It's a positive development. The United States must not harbor human rights violators," said Ira Kurzban, a Miami immigration lawyer who also represents the Haitian government.
Another high-profile torture suspect arrested by the INS was Eriberto Mederos, a former nurse in Cuba. He was convicted in Miami federal court of the torture of dissidents in a Cuban hospital in the 1970s.
Mederos died shortly after his conviction last year. If he had survived, he would have been processed for deportation though it is doubtful that Cuba would have accepted him.