Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Feb.5 (ANI): Ten Americans, who tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the country last week without the government's consent, have been charged with child abduction and criminal conspiracy, as Haitian officials sought to reassert judicial control after the January 12 earthquake.
The Americans, most of them members of a Baptist congregation from Idaho, had said they intended to rescue Haitian children left parentless in the quake and take them to what they described as an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic.
However, they acknowledged failing to seek approval to remove the children from Haiti, and several of the children have at least one living parent, the New York Times reports.
The Americans will face a potentially extended legal proceeding in Haiti and could, if convicted, face prison terms of up to 15 years.
An investigative judge will have up to three months to decide on the type of charges to be levelled.
The hearing took place in a hilltop courthouse that had minor cracks in the walls and scores of squatters living outside.
A crush of journalists sought access to the defendants on their way into the courthouse, where police officers in riot gear prevented access.
They were arrested last Friday near the Haiti- Dominican Republic border. (ANI)