Nightly News   |  February 07, 2010

‘Idaho 10’ faces complicated legal battle

Charged with attempted kidnapping and conspiracy, the jailed missionaries are clinging to the hope that their ordeal is nearing its end. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> news, washington.

>>> now to a group known as the idaho ten. they are the american missionaries jailed in haiti, charged with attempted kidnapping and conspiracy. they will be back in court tomorrow. nbc's kerry sanders joins us once again from port-au-prince with the latest on their case. kerry, good evening.

>> reporter: well, good evening, lester. every time the idaho 10 go back to court here, they hold out hope that this is the end of their ordeal. and while former president clinton came here recently and said he had nothing to do with their plight, the family members of the idaho 10 are holding out hope that perhaps quietly something was worked out. visits to the jail holding the idaho 10 were more strictly controlled today. this after a note scribbled on a scrap of paper was passed by one of the jailed missionaries to nbc news through the cell bars on saturday. the note in part says, "please, you must listen. we have no way to call. court will not let us have a say with anything about truth for us. we only came as volunteers." complicating their ballot, edwin coq, their haitian defense attorney , has now been fired by the idaho 10 in a dispute over fees. $60,000.

>> they are sleeping on the floor. there's no ventilation. and then you can feel the steam coming out of there. and this is a health concern because if these older people are sick they're going to get sick, i mean, in any minute. they were getting fevers. i mean, we don't know what can happen.

>> reporter: their lawyer from the neighboring dominican republic expects good news monday, but he admits the biggest challenge the ten face is the haitian court system . here the accused are assumed guilty, and they must prove their innocence. laura silsby, the leader and spokeswoman for the group, has repeatedly said their faith will vindicate their actions.

>> i feel good. i'm trusting god.

>> reporter: i recently spoke to her in jail.

>> is there an apology to be made by you to this government?

>> no. we are meeting with the government officials and talking with them. everything is going very well.

>> reporter: but in that note passed to us there was this about laura -- " laura wants to control. we believe lying. we're afraid." in meridian, idaho today at the central valley baptist church parishioners prayed for their friends.

>> though we do not know exactly what transpired down in haiti, we know that we care for those that find themselves in this hour of need.

>> reporter: we contacted laura silsby's sister in idaho , kim bart orngs and askon and asked her about that note. she said, "i don't know how to respond. i don't know what to make of it." lester?

>> kerry sanders in port-au-prince tonight. kerry, thanks.

>>> when "nightly news" continues tonight