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Last Baptist worker held in Haiti faces new charge

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (ABP) -- The last of 10 Americans held in Haiti on suspicion of kidnapping now faces a new charge stemming from an earlier alleged attempt to bus child earthquake victims to the Dominican Republic three days before the 10 Baptist church-group volunteers were arrested at the border Jan. 29.

Laura Silsby, a businesswoman in Boise, Idaho, and leader of the mission volunteers drawn from members of four Southern Baptist churches in Idaho, Kansas and Texas, faces a new charge of "organization of irregular trips" under a 1980 law restricting travel out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.

She already could stand trial on charges of kidnapping and criminal association in the Jan. 29 attempt to take 33 Haitian children to a temporary orphanage in the Dominican Republic without proper paperwork. According to the Associated Press, Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said he has until early May to decide whether to release Silsby or to order a trial.

Charissa Coulter, the ninth of the 10 detainees to be released by Haitian authorities, arrived home in Boise after six weeks on March 13. Coulter, Silsby's friend and live-in nanny, got out of jail March 8 but lingered in Miami to rest in hope that Silsby would be allowed to join her.

"We are 10 Christians who obeyed God's calling and we went to help the nation of Haiti and its children," Coulter, a member of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, said of the group's intent quoted in the Idaho Statesman. "It didn't go the way we planned. ... It's hard to understand."

 

 

       
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