Haitian police say they believe the partial remains of a body belongs to the missing freelance photojournalist Vladjimir Legagneur, 30, who disappeared on March 14.
A mangled body and a hat were found Wednesday in Port-au-Prince after a police investigation was launched in Grand Ravine, a gang-infested section of the city where the photographer was last seen prior to his disappearance, police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.
“It’s the DNA [test] that will say for sure if it is him,” said Lerebours, adding that a motorcycle taxi driver who drove the victim was also killed.
Before leaving his home on March 14, the journalist told his wife he had plans to meet an individual connected to a freelance gig. According to his wife, Fleurette Guerrier, he was connected with several Haitian media outlets and was passionate about his craft.
“It wasn’t about the money,” she said. “He always seized every opportunity he could to take a photo.”
It was his devotion to his trade which sent him into one of the seediest parts of town last week. Prior to entering the Grand Ravine, Legagneur stopped at a police station bordering the neighbourhood. Police and even UN Peace Keepers have been known to shy from entering the gang territory due to its tumultuous history and double homicide of police officers in November.
However, this didn’t stop an army of journalists from marching down Port-au-Prince’s street, dressed in white and holding signs, calling for police action. Silence on the part of police authorities prompted Guerrier and media personnel to recruit Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists to push for justice.
Legagneur’s case is a reminder to Haiti’s democracy and the failure of the judicial system towards journalists “who never found justice, who were assassinated, those whose bodies were found and whose bodies were never found,” Haitian journalist Liliane Pierre-Paul, co-founder of Haiti’s Radio Kiskeya, said Wednesday.
“These incidents are like a scar that never goes away,” Pierre-Paul said.
During a press conference, Guerrier recounted how she had struggled with police, reporting her husband missing after two days of searching in morgues and local hospitals for him.
Following the protest, Police Chief Michel-Ange Gedeon, called for the Grand-ravine, which he called “no-go zones” to be searched and “emptied of its bandits”.