By CJ LOTZ
LES CAYES, Haiti — A judge convicted seven police officers in a landmark trial for their role in a prison riot that saw at least 10 prisoners shot to death in the chaotic aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.
The successful prosecution, concluding two years to the day after the uprising, was considered at least a small victory for the court system of an impoverished Caribbean nation where criminal cases seldom reach trial and law-breaking officials walk with impunity.
Judge Ezekiel Vaval said six other police officers were innocent as he concluded a three-month trial in the southwestern town of Les Cayes.
The 13 police officers were accused of murder, attempted murder and other crimes after they allegedly opened fire on inmates during a prison riot in Les Cayes one week after the quake.
The sentences ranged from two years to 13 years of hard labor. Prison inspector Sylvestre Larack got seven years of hard labor because witnesses testified that he ordered officers to commit the killings.
The defendants had faced the possibility of up to life in prison.