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8 Americans detained in Haiti freed on bail, 2 others to remain

From John Vause, CNN
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Americans freed on bail
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The eight can leave the country immediately, a lawyer said
  • Two American missionaries seen leaving jail in police vehicle
  • Source says diabetic woman among group held is in "a lot of pain"
  • 10 Americans charged with kidnapping after January 12 earthquake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- A Haitian judge ruled Wednesday that eight of the 10 Americans detained in Haiti have been freed on their word and can leave the country immediately, a lawyer involved in the case told CNN.

Two of the Americans, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter, will remain in Haiti because the judge wants to determine why they traveled to Haiti on an earlier trip before the January 12 earthquake, attorney Avion Fleurent said.

The eight Americans will be flown Wednesday night from Haiti to Florida, according to Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, and from there will arrange their own transportation back to their hometowns.

Although the Americans are released on bail, there was no bond required. They are being released on their word. However, Hiram Sasser, an American attorney who represents Jim Allen -- one of the eight Americans freed on bail -- told CNN that the Americans had been released from jail and were at the airport late afternoon Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear when they would leave the country.

A second lawyer, Gary Lissade, who represents Jim Allen, one of the eight Americans freed on bail, said the fact that the judge was releasing the Americans on their word may indicate that the charges will be eventually dropped.

"I can say it's a great indication that the charges will be dropped against those which have been released," he told CNN.

Regarding Silsby and Coulter, Lissade said only that he knew they were being held so the judge could investigate further.

The 10 Americans face charges of kidnapping and criminal association for trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the nation's earthquake.

The Americans have said they were trying to help the children get to a safe place after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake.

Video: Missionaries released on bail
Video: Detained Americans granted bail
Video: 'Justice has been served'
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Earlier Wednesday, one of the Americans was taken to a hospital, two sources said, although she returned to jail shortly afterward.

A source inside the judicial headquarters told CNN that the woman is a diabetic and was in a "lot of pain."

A CNN crew saw two of the detained American women leave in a police vehicle. One of them was Coulter, a diabetic.

The decision about whether to grant bail to the Americans was apparently delayed earlier this week by quake-induced electricity problems at the courthouse.

Electricity had also been out at the courthouse for a period of the day on Wednesday, and Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said he had been waiting all day Wednesday for a brief from the prosecution before making a decision about bail. He received the brief Wednesday afternoon.

Phyllis Allison, Allen's mother, told CNN that she couldn't wait to see her son.

"It's been awful but we entrusted in God that it would happen," she told CNN of her son's release. She said Allen went to Haiti because he wanted to help the people rebuild their country.

"He just wanted to help them," she said.

Caleb Stegall, who represents four of the men who are detained, told CNN in a written statement that he was pleased they were being released.

"Their families are relieved and anxious to have them safely home, and we are turning all of our energies towards bringing them back as safely and quickly as possible," he said.

CNN's Lonzo Cook, Terence Burke, David McKenzie, and Dan Simon contributed to this report.

 
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