A Haitian judge said yesterday he had ruled in favour of the release of 10 US missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 children and trying to take them out of the earthquake-stricken country.
"I just signed the request for the release of the 10 Americans submitted by the lawyers and I have sent it to the prosecutor's office," Judge Bernard Sainvil said.
Under Haitian law, the prosecutor can formally comment on the judge's decision but he cannot overrule it. The missionaries, most of whom belong to an Idaho-based Baptist church, have been in jail since they were stopped at Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic on 29 January. They were arrested trying to take the children across the border.
The five men and five women have denied any intentional wrongdoing and said they were trying to help orphans left destitute by the quake. But evidence has come to light showing that most of the children still had living parents.