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Report of the trial of Antonio Pelletier and others.
LIBERTY-EQUALITY-REPUBLIC OF HAYTI. In the year 1861, and the 58th of Haytien independence, the 26th of August, at eight o'clock in the morning.
We, Chérmon Chéri, judge and acting for the dean or senior judge of the criminal court of Port-au-Prince, in the absence of the incumbent; Brutus Alexandre Gillot, chief justice, and Durin Mege, associate judge, aided by citi zen J. M. Duvet, chief clerk of the said court, and in presence of citizen J.J. Lilavois, substitute for the government commissioner near this court, and by citizen Lewis Smithe, senior, sworn interpreter, requested for Thomas Collar, one of the accused, of English extract, not understanding French, all constituting the said court, assembled for the purpose of discussing and giving fival judgment in the criminal case instituted by order of the government against the following persons, to wit:
1. Antonio Pelletier; 2. Thomas Collar ; 3. John Henry Brown; 4. Urban Castaign ; 5. Pigault Louis Baptiste Benjamin ; 6. Millet Pierre Henry; 7. Alexandre Thibodeau ; 8. Cartier Francas ; 9. Louis Maurice; 10. Rogard Yves Guillome; 11. Jean Alexandre Herault; and 12. Louis Legallin, accused of piracy and elave trading on the coasts of Hayti, &c., &c., according to the return and accusation, or indictment, by the grand jury, on the 25th of July, of this year, drawn up by J. J. Lilavois, substitute for the government commissioner.
The accused were brought from the city prison, attended by their counsel, to the court room, free and without manacles, escorted only by a guard to prevent
The chief justice (doyen) called the roll of the jury, not excused or excepted to, to serve on this trial, each summoned separately by order of the common counsel and of the accused, indicted by the government.
The jurors' names being put into a box, to the number of thirty-one, and the dean having complied with article 237 of the criminal code towards the accused, explained to Thomas Collar by the sworn interpreter, proceeded to the drawing.
After the drawing, effected with exceptions as prescribed by article 234 of the said code, the following citizens were found to constitute the jury, and were arranged in proper seats in front of the accused. These are the names of the 12 jurors : 1. Charles H. St. Rome. 2. Jean M. S. Lespece. 3. Charles F. S. Preston. 4. Chery Martin. 5. Vallery Archer. 6. Rochefort Ramponcaux. 7. John Rose Blain. 8. Ju. Baptiste Hacquet. 9. Brandimard Dujour. 10. Paul Emile Archer. 11. Pierre B. Lahins. 12. Alexandre Brutus.
The dean ordered court to be opened ; the public was admitted; the witnesses introduced, and the trial was commenced.
The dean asking the name, surname, age, occupation, birthplace and residence of the chief culprit, was answered :
1. Antonio Pelletier ; age, 43 years ; a merchant and captain on the high seas ; born at Fontainebleau, France; residing and domiciled in New York.
2. The same question being put to the accused Thomas Collar, through the interpreter, he answered: My name is Thomas Collar; I am 35 years of age; am a seaman by occupation, and first mate of the bark William; was born at Epping, England ; naturalized in America; reside and have my domicile in New York.
3. The third accused, being interrogated in like manner, answered : John Henry Brown; age, 29; born at Quimper, France; living and domiciled in Boston; a naturalized citizen of the United States.
4. The fourth accused answered : Urbin Castaign ; age 27; teacher of languages; born at Plaisance, France, and domiciled in Mobile, United States.
5. The fifth accused answered : Picault Louis Jean Baptiste Benjamin, age 45; clerk; born in Paris.; lives in Port-au-Prince.
6. The sixth accused answered: Millet Pierre Henry, age 30; machinist; born at Salier, (France;) resides in Bordeaux.
7. The seventh accused answered : Alexandre Thibodeau, age 20; a sailor; born and lives in Bordeaux.
8. The eighth accused answered: Cartier François, age 19; sailor; born at Cette, (France, where he lives.
9. The ninth accused answered: Louis Maurice, age 33; ship carpenter; born at L'Orient, (France,) and lives there still.
10. The tenth accused answered: Rogard Yves Guillome, age 23; cook; born at Fredarzu, (France) and domiciled in that place.
11. The eleventh accused answered: Jean Alexandre Herault, age 33; cook and stone-mason; born at Jeanton, (France;) domiciled in Paris.
12. The twelfth witness answered: Louis Legallin, age 28; sailor ; born at Belle-Isle, (France,) and naturalized American.
Here Mr. Lavand, counsel for the prisoner Pelletier, remarked to the court that the absence of Messrs. Valsin and Rimpel deprived several prisoners of counsel for their defence, contrary to the law on the subject.
Mr. Clavier, rising, said that, as the accused were arraigned for the same crime, he and his colleagues, Quiqueron, Valein, and Rimpel, would defend them all, though their counsel might remain absent.
The accused being consulted, consented to the defence of Mr. Clavier, in place of absent official counsel.
Mr. St. Amand moved to be named with Archin and Chance as counsel for Messrs. Cotis and Caño, civil parties in the suit. Then the court called the attention of the counsel for defence to article 245 of the code of practice, and charged the jury, standing uncovered, respecting the oath in article 246 of said code; each of the jury was sworn separately, and replied, raising his right hand, * I do."
Mr. Lavand, then rising, excepted to the jurisdiction of the court, inasmuch as the court of cassation had no right to create an exceptional tribunal to try the accused.
The court, considering this incident, declared it premature, as the criminal court cannot act till the indictment is read, which had not yet been done.
Mr. Lavand then withdrew his motion, and the clerk read the indictment, dated 25th July last, drawn up by Mr. J. J. Lilavois, substitute for the government commissioner, and the decree of the court of appeals of the republic, referring this particular case to the criminal court. The reading was aloud by the clerk.
After this, considering the late hour, the judge adjourned court until 8 o'clock next morning, the 27th. Signed by the judges and clerk:
27th. The court met according to adjournment, and Louis Pointhe, sr., sworn in as interpreter.
The judge addressed the accused, told them of their situation, and that they were now to be tried, which was translated to the prisoners by the interpreter.
Mr. Lavand then demanded a free copy of the documents authorized by article 211 of the criminal code.
The public minister having been consulted, and the court advised, the exception is rejected as having been made too late, and Mr. Lavand is ordered to conform to the rules of court, receiving all documents necessary to him from the bar.
Mr. St. Amand requests the judge to ask the accused, Pelletier and Thomas Collar, this question, to wit: “If they withdrew their objection to the jurisdiction of the court ?"
The judge decided the question as settled yesterday, and it could not be again brought up to-day, and ordered the case to proceed.
The indictment having been read, the prisoner Pelletier declares he will make no defence, having invited his lawyers to retire, and will answer no ques. tious, trusting entirely to the judge and jury. The public minister then proposed that counsel be assigned for the defence of the accused; but the prisoner Pelletier refuses, and his lawyers retire from the bar.
The prosecuting counsel next presented a list of the witnesses duly summoned. The list was read aloud by the clerk, but the witnesses not appearing, the judge issued a writ of distrainer to force their appearance at 1 o'clock that day.
The court then adjourned to 2 o'clock the same day.
The court opened at 2 p. m., according to adjournment, and proceeded to business.
The accused, Thomas Collar, declared, through the interpreter, that he had chosen Mr. Lavand to defend him, instead of Mr. Valcin, the counsel employed by the court.
Mr. Lavand was named counsel for the defence of Thomas Collar, John Brown, and Louis Legallin, and accepted by the prisoners, to aid Mr. Linstant.
Mr. Lavand, causing some disturbance by a loud discussion, was called to order by the court; but, not obeying, he was committed to jail. Mr. Linstant was then informed that he was sole counsel for Thomas Collar, John Brown, and Louis Legallin.
The prosecuting attorney insisted upon Pelletier's having counsel, but the prisoner continued to refuse, and the attorney asks that a minute be made of his motion, which is granted. But as Pelletier sent off his lawyers, and refused the counsel assigned him by the court, and determined to make no personal defence, the judge declared it should be as the prisoner desired.
The witnesses making their appearance, the court ordered the sheriffto show
them to a room assigned to them; whence they were called separately, and examined, as follows:
The first witness, having been sworn upon the Bible to speak, without hate or fear, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and declaring that he was neither relative, connection, nor servant of either party, answered thus : My name is Miranda Pierre, 47 years of age, second mate of the bark William, and I live at Bordeaux.
(The testimony of this witness conformed in every particular to the charges of the indictment, as far as regards the voyage of the William from Port-auPrince, touching at Grand Inagua, Cape Haytien, &c., with all the crew employed by_Pelletier to capture our people and seize the Geffrard.)
Interrogated by the judge, at the request of the prosecutor, he declared, that when the accused drew up the report he requested him to sign any name to it, and he signed his real name.
Mr. Linstant wishing to propose an irrelevant question to the witness, (incriminating himself,) the court objected to or overruled his request, whereupon Mr. Linstant threw up his case and withdrew.
Witness being examined by the civil party, stated the color of the pilot and his son, taken from the Caciques; they were black, and had gone ashore voluntarily ; but Pelletier spoke to them in English, which witness does not understand. The accused, Ursin Castaign, was asked what oaths Pelletier made use of in speaking of Hayti. He answered : “ The damned country! I'll get paid
Thomas Collar, by interpreter, was asked how much provisions and water the bark William had on board-enough for the voyage from Port-au-Prince to New Orleans ? Under what flag he sailed from Port-au-Prince, and under what did he touch at Fort Liberté and Cape Haytien? Answer : Four barrels of pork, four of beef, eight pipes of water, and many empty casks; does not know if there were other provisions aboard, but thinks there were not more than enough for the voyage from Port-au-Prince to New Orleans. The bark left Port-au-Prince under American colors, and hoisted the French flag in the ports of Fort Liberté and Cape Haytien.
The same questions were put to the other witnesses, separately, and they said there were other provisions on board, and more than enough for the voyage from Port-au-Prince to New Orleans. Their answer to the flag question was : The bark had left Port-au-Prince under American colors, aud hoisted the French flag near the cape, to call a pilot, and had saluted a passing vessel with the same flag, and only at Fort Liberté did he hoist the French flag permanently, taking down the ship’s ensign having " William” printed on it, and substituting a flag with “ William Tell, of Havre," written on it. The captain also changed his name and ordered the crew to call him “Mr. Jules Lettellier."
The accused, Picault Louis, adds that Captain Pelletier ordered Miranda to give him 48 lashes, but Miranda had too much humanity to execute the order. He estimates the number of water-casks at more than one hundred, and proves it by saying he saw Pelletier buy 94 casks, of 30 and 60 gallons, before leaving Port-au-Prince. He says Pelletier struck him, and the prisoner Thibodeaux attests his bad treatment of the crew. He mentions his attempt to escape with Maurice, Picault, and Guilloux, and how Miranda's vigilance prevented them. They made more than one attempt, but always failed. He mentions the great fear of the crew for the captain and his wife, a terrible woman ; in fact, the sailors were afraid of each other.
The accused, Guilloux, says the captain nearly killed bim with cruelty and lashings, and treated several others with the same severity. Being cross-questioned, he said, when asked about his business as carpenter on board, that he made a platform, but had never seen one on a merchant vessel before.
All the crew agreed on the particulars of the impromptu ball the captain gavo on board, while in the harbor of Fort Liberté, and his intention to carry off the young men and women who were invited.
After the examination of each witness the judge asked Pelletier if he had any defence to make, and be persisted in his resolution to make no defence, nor accept counsel.
Miranda's examination is now continued and explained to Collar by the interpreter. The judge asked him if the prisoners present were the persons meant. He said Pelletier was the only one guilty ; the others were on board and were treated as bad as himself. The judge asked Pelletier if it was true, and he made no answer. All the others said it was.
The second witness was brought in: he was sworn; said he knew Collar and Pelletier ; was steward on the brig William, in command of Captain Pelletier, now present; said his name was Theodore Mary Cheignon, age 31, a cook by trade; lives in Port-au-Prince. He was asked if he knew Cotis and Caño; when he shipped on the William ; what was the cargo; if the captain had not taken a pilot and cabin boy at Cartagena ; what was their color, and what the captain did with them. He replied : I shipped at New Orleans for Rio Hacha, by Mr. Deloney's advice; the captain did not go there, but sailed direct to Great Caïman island, where he landed Bayna, a passenger, and his family; he knew neither Cotis nor Caño, but the stranger landed might be Cotis ; there was tobacco, corn, and meats on board, but he did not know to whom they belonged; had seen Pelletier receive $600, which he said was for goods; the captain had taken a cabin boy and pilot, both colored, at Cartagena, and left them in Port-au-Prince.
Pelletier made no reply put to him by the judge. The prosecuting attorney requested the judge to have Pelletier committed for contempt of court. The judge did not order him to jail.
Being six o'clock, the court was adjourned till 8 o'clock next morning, the 28th day of the month.
The minutes were then read and signed by the judges and the clerk.
The court opened next morning, according to adjournment, and the trial proceeded. The third witness was introduced and sworn : said he knew only Pelletier and Urbain Castaigo ; his name was Nepomucene Gaëtan Cesvest, age 32, commission merchant, residing in Port-au-Prince. The vessel was consigned to this witness. After his examination the judge asked the prisoners if what he said was true. Castaign answered in the affirmative, but Pelletier made
The fourth witness was introduced and sworn: said he knew the prisoners; bis name was Vil Maximilien, age 32 years ; resides in Port-au-Prince; Pelletier applied to him for 50 men and 6 women to dig guano, but he said they could not be shipped without a government permit ; Pelletier told him he had a permit, but it turned out that he had only mentioned it to Colonel A. Celcis, the port warden. All the accused confessed the truth of this testimony, but Pelleiier refused to answer any questions.
The fifth witness was introduced and sworn : said he knew two of the accused, Pelletier and Castaign, for he had seen them in New Orleans, and they had been at his house in Mobile. He also knew Mr. Cotis, a passenger in the William. His own name was Henry Tyrelle, 20 years of age; no trade; lives in Mobile, United States. He was asked if Pelletier did not quit Port-au-Prince with the American flag up, and then hoist French colors at Fort Liberty and Cape Haytien. He answered in the affirmative. He was asked if Urbain did not tell him to use all his influence to dissuade Pelletier from his intended slave trade and his ball. He answered yes, he did all he could, and had long suspected Pelletier. The prisoners were then asked if the witness spoke the truth. Castaign said yes, but Pelletier refused to answer.
The sixth witness was introduced and sworn : he knows Pelletier and Urbain,