U.S. Missionaries in Haiti Ask to Await Trial at Home

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The 10 U.S. missionaries charged with kidnapping in Haiti are asking to come home until their trial, despite a court ruling that they remain in jail without bail.

Former President Bill Clinton-- who's the special envoy to Haiti-- visited their jail, Friday, and said the State Department is working hard to bring them home.

Until then, they could face months of harsh living conditions.

The missionaries from the Idaho-based Baptist charity New Life Children's Refuge are charged with kidnapping and criminal association for trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

The charges together carry a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison.

Laura Silsby, the group's leader, remains confident the situation will be resolved.

"We expect that God's will be done, and we will be released," she said. "And we're looking forward to what God is going to do."

Yet, Haitian government officials are angry and the prime minister labeled the missionaries "kidnappers."

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that while the U.S. is trying to help the missionaries, it's now a matter for the Haitian justice system.

"Once we know all the facts, then we'll determine what the appropriate course is," he said. "But the judgment is really up to the Haitian government."

The missionaries' lawyer Edwin Coq said Silsby knew the group couldn't take the children from Haiti without proper paperwork and the other nine were unknowingly caught up in something they didn't understand.

They all face a long three-month pre-trial detention under poor conditions, like sleeping on the floor without blankets or adequate food. Their lawyer said he has been taking them food.

Haiti's Justice Minister said he sees "no reason" why the missionaries should be sent to the United States for trial. For now, they must wait on the wheels of justice in Haiti.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.