2 Feb 2010

US missionaries to face Haiti judge

5:19 pm on 2 February 2010

Haitian and US officials are discussing whether 10 Americans held in Haiti for trying to take 33 children out of the country on Friday should be prosecuted in the United States.

The five men and five women from an Idaho-based Christian group are due to appear before a judge who will decide whether they will face charges.

Haiti Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive says the country's justice system is not fully functioning since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on 12 January and has suggested the case be heard in the United States.

Haitian authorities have accused the group of child trafficking.

The missionaries say the children have no parents and were being taken to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

They say they did not know they had done anything wrong and believed they had been given the right paperwork to take the children out of Haiti.

Haitian aid workers say some of the children appear to have surviving relatives.

The BBC reports the government says it is now trying to find the families of the children and is reinforcing border security.