Judge: Detained Americans Should Be Released

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The 10 American missionaries accused of kidnapping kids in Haiti may spend the weekend in jail, despite a Haitian judge ruling that they should be released.

The judge deliberating the fate of the 10 U.S. missionaries in Haiti charged with transporting children out of the quake-torn island nation said Thursday he will recommend they all be released.

One day after wrapping up questioning, Judge Bernard Saint-Vil forwarded his recommendation to the prosecutor.

CBN News Reporter Mark Martin has more on this case, as seen on Thursday's Newswatch program. Click here for his update.

"After listening to the families, I see the possibility that they can all be released," Saint-Vil told The Associated Press. "I am recommending that all 10 Americans be released."

The Baptist missionaries went to Haiti to rescue orphans following the Jan. 12 earthquake. At least 20 of the children they tried to bring across the border into the Dominican Republic have living parents.

The group reportedly did not have the proper paperwork from Haitian authorities to transport the children. However, their new Dominican lawyer, Aviol Fleurant, said Tuesday several parents gave their children to the Baptist group in good faith.

"The Americans acted with heart," Fleurant said outside a courthouse in the capital. "They had no intention to violate the Haitian law."

Although the prosecutor has the option to either accept or object the judge's recommendation, it is the judge who has the final say-so in whether the missionaries remain incarcerated or are released.

It is unclear whether such a move would mean the charges will be dropped. However, Gary Lassade, an attorney for one of the Americans, said he expects the judge to recommend later Thursday that the case be dropped altogether.

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