Henry Tiffany, the Virginia lawyer acquited Thursday of charges that he smuggled into Haiti almost a ton of marijuana in a small plane, flew here last night and said the State Department had not acted strongly enough in his behalf.
Looking weak and visibly shaken after his trial and two months in a Haitian prison, Tiffany, 43, stepped from his private plane at National Airport and said:
"I was given a very fair trial in Haiti . . . I think the State Department should have been more active."
Tiffany declined to elaborate about the State Department but, in a rambling monologue, he told reporters about his dissatisfaction with two Haitian attorneys recommended by the American consulate in the Port-au-Prince, the capital city.
State Department spokesman Mary Ann Bader told the Associated Press last night that the embassy in Haiti "is unaware of any request made by Mr. Tiffany for assistance to which it did not respond." She said embassy officers visited him regularly in prison.
Bader said the embassy did not recommend an attorney in Haiti but gave Tiffany a list of local attorneys.
Tiffany hired another Haitian attorney, Calixte Delatour, who accompanied him here. Tiffany praised him as "the bravest man in Haiti" for defending Tiffany in a trial that was telecast live and attract hundreds of onlookers to the cramped courtroom in Port-au-Prince.
"The case of Mr. Tiffany represents a moment in history of justice in Haiti," said Delatour, who was enroute to New York to visit relatives.
Tiffany and Jack Melcher, 44, both of whom are from Waynesboro, Va., were arrested Oct. 22 after their twinengine Beechcraft wa forced to land on a remote airstrip south of Port-au-Prince. Tiffany said yesterday that the two men were on their way to Curacao to take aerial photographs of real estate property when one of the engines stopped.
Although initially given a warm welcome by residents of the nearby village of Aquin, the two men were arrested the following day when military officials reported discovery of 68 bales of marijuana 200 feet from the plane.
Dirt samples scraped from Tiffany's plane were pronounced "marijuana" by the military officials who also thought a beef bouillon cube in the plane's survival kit was hashish, according to Frank Mika, a Washington attorney and friend to Tiffany.
"There were rumors that we were set up," Tiffany said yesterday. "but I don't know. It could have been a coincidence . . . I just walked into something"
In freeing the two men, Haitian Judge Theopile Jean-Francois decided that the small plane was incapable of carrying almost a ton of marijuana. Tiffany said that was "twice the volume" his plane could hold.
Saying he was a man "who could not live an ordinary life," Tiffany said his first priority would be readjustment.
Although he said he has never smoked marijuana, the flamboyant lawyer and real estate developer said the ordeal convinced him that marijuana possession should be decriminalized. "I never even thought about marijuana before this happened," said Tiffany.
A father of three, Tiffany lost 35 pounds in prison and was treated for infections and ringworm-like condition on his chest.
He declined to comment on Haitian prison conditions yesterday but said he had not been subjected to physical violence. "Faith in myself" is what sustained him, he said.
Tiffany estimated that the twomonth ordeal had cost him $25,000 in airplane fares and hotel bills for him family and attorney Mika.
The Beechraft plane is being repaired and Tiffany said he will return to Haiti to fly it home.
"I have no anger and no hatred. Everything in life happens for a purpose," he said.