PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Two Americans locked up for almost two months in a Haitian prison for their alleged roles in a pro-army demonstration were released on Friday.
Judge Bredy Fabien said the charges against Jason William "Zeke" Petrie and Steven Parker Shaw were dropped because there wasn't enough evidence to hold them. But Fabien added that their release was conditional and the two still needed to be available if the judge had questions.
"Whenever I need them I can call them," Fabien told The Associated Press after the closed-door hearing.
The two were among more than 50 marchers who were locked up on May 18 for participating in a demonstration that pushed for the return of Haiti's disbanded armed forces.
Petrie and Shaw were initially charged with conspiracy after they allegedly drove a group of the hopeful soldiers in the march. That charge was later dismissed and they were charged with criminal association and attempted murder.
Petrie, 39, is from Barberton, Ohio; and Shaw, 57, is from Dighton, Massachusetts.
Upon their release, Petrie and Shaw hugged and kissed their girlfriends in the courtyard of the courthouse.
"You know what, it's a beautiful thing to be free – that's what I can tell you," Petrie as he put his arm around his girlfriend, Darlene Eliette, 20.
Still, John Shattuck, a family friend who worked with attorneys to secure their release, said he was hoping to fly the two out of the country after finding their passports.
Shattuck said the judge and his attorney both told him that Petrie and Shaw were free to go and that there were no restrictions placed on them, apparently contradicting the judge's comments to the AP.
"The judge said to me they are free to go," Shattuck said as they were about to drive to a hotel restaurant to relax. "It's unconditional."