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article imageReport: Haitian lawyer for jailed US missionaries fired

By Chris Dade     Feb 8, 2010 in World
The Haitian lawyer representing 10 U.S. missionaries accused of child kidnapping in the earthquake-hit Caribbean country says he has resigned. However, reports indicate he may have been fired.
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Edwin Coq, the man previously representing the missionaries accused of attempting to take 33 Haitian children in to the Dominican Republic without the appropriate documentation, said he resigned.
However, according to the Associated Press Jorge Puello, the attorney in the Dominican Republic employed by the families of the 10 missionaries, Coq was fired.
According to reports, Coq was dismissed because he tried to secure the release of nine people in the group who are currently being held in two different prison in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
Coq was accused of trying to use a $60,000 bribe. However, he said he "worked for 10 people for four days working all hours" and insisted the $60,000 was his fee.
Puello has a different story, saying Coq only asked for $10,000 initially. He said the request for $60,000 was allegedly accompanied by a guarantee that all of the missionaries, except their leader Laura Silsby, would be released.
Puello alleges Coq "had some people inside the court that asked him for money, and he was part of this scheme."
Coq also said Laura Silsby, the group's leader, was fully aware documentation was not in order for the 33 children she and her colleagues were planning to take in to the Dominican Republic, the country which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
Last week, Digital Journal revealed the woman is also facing two lawsuits in her home state of Idaho,
Puello said he also believes Silsby deliberately misled her group by assuring them the paperwork for the children, a large number of whom were not orphans as was originally claimed, was in place and their relocation fully legal.
Coq told CNN:
Except for Laura -- the group's leader, who took the responsibility to displace these 33 children, fully knowing she didn't have any legal document that would allow her to do so -- the other nine American citizens didn't know anything about what was going on and I remain convinced that they would not have given their accord
Coq believes Silsby "had no intention to do any harm," and reports indicate a number of the children were given to the missionaries by their parents with the hope they would enjoy a better life outside Haiti.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, now leading the UN relief effort in Haiti, is reportedly looking at ways to "accelerate resolution" of the matter. The IdahoStatesman claims eight people in the group are pointing the finger of blame firmly at Silsby.
While speaking to NBC on Saturday, a member of the group seemingly handed a note to a network producer. The note read:
We fear for our lives in Haiti. There is corruption and extortion. Laura wants to control. We believe lying. We’re afraid
The Associated Press reports the note read:
We only came as volunteers. We had nothing to do with any documents and have been lied to. Please we fear our lives.
Silsby and 24-year-old Charisa Coulter, who was also a live-in nanny, did not sign the note.
Court hearings for the missionaries are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. It remains unclear who the group's legal representative will be.
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