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#303: This Week in Haiti 17:22 8/18/99 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                      August 18 - 24, 1999
                          Vol. 17, No. 22


Confrontations flared last week between a police crowd-control
unit and the residents of Delmas 24, a neighborhood of Port-au-
Prince. The Company for Intervention and the Maintenance of Order
(CIMO) fired bullets and tear-gas canisters into angry crowds
after a policeman allegedly shot to death a young woman from the

Naomie Simon, a 22-year-old student and apprentice accountant,
was killed by a bullet to the neck and one to the stomach on Aug.
6. Neighbors who claim to have witnessed the shooting say that
the victim was shot by her cousin's husband, a policeman named
René Altidor. He had intervened at the request of his wife after
the two cousins had an argument, they say.

"Without asking anything, the policeman just shot [Naomie] with
two bullets," said a man who claimed to have witnessed the
shooting. "When the people began to stand up to this act, the
CIMO intervened and took the policeman from the scene... The CIMO
also wanted to take the body [of Naomie] without the presence of
the media, a justice of the peace, or an ambulance. We did not

Naomie's family and neighbors prevented both officer Altidor and
a police unit from taking her body, fearing that the authorities
would tamper with the evidence of her shooting before a justice
of the peace or the press could bear witness. Under Haitian law,
a justice of the peace is responsible for inspecting evidence at
a crime scene.

Burning tire barricades, urban Haiti's traditional form of
protest, went up in neighborhood's streets, and soon the CIMO
arrived to clear them away and retrieve the victim's body, which
the family had spirited away.

Before long, CIMO agents were chasing demonstrators, firing
weapons, and swinging clubs while neighborhood residents were
throwing stones. The CIMO also did some rock-throwing of their
own. Many residents were aghast when CIMO units forcibly entered
homes and climbed to the roofs, so that they could better survey
the street skirmishes below. In the end, three people were
wounded and nine people were arrested.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the family and neighbors of the
victim did allow the justice of the peace of Delmas to inspect
the scene and transport the body to the morgue at the General

The Haitian National Police (PNH) categorically deny that officer
Altidor shot Naomie Simon. "Until there is evidence to the
contrary, there is no indication that would lead us to believe
that any police officer was implicated in this act," said
PNHspokesman Jean Dady Siméon. "There is a judicial inquiry
to determine who is the true perpetrator."

Asked why the Police did not consider the testimony of Delmas 24
residents as evidence of Altidor's role, Siméon replied that
"there could be people in the neighborhood who have a grudge
against the policeman" and that using the "commotion and
sensationalism" of the moment, "they could try to blame something
on him."

Such explanations have enraged area residents, who feel powerless
before official nonchalance."What we want is justice," declared
Turena Léonard Saintilien, who had been Naomie's boyfriend. "We
want the Police to arrest the person who did this crime and to
send him before his natural judges so that we can find justice
and reparations."

The people of Delmas 24, like those of many other capital
neighborhoods, are also shocked by the ruthlessness of the CIMO.
"What disturbs us in the Coordination for Development of the
Popular Masses are the actions of the police," said one popular
organization spokesman on the scene. "It proves the incompetence
of the police command. This looks like something planned. It
seems like they can do nothing other than kill, destroy houses,
and do a lot of other things that are not good."


The rural district of Montagne La Voûte, near the southeastern
city of Jacmel, is beset by armed thieves. Often around 9 p.m.
the zenglendo   as the thieves are called   go from door to door,
robbing peasants of their meager worldly possessions and savings.

But on Aug. 9, the peasants of Montagne La Voûte got their hands
on one thief. Alma Domond had just escaped from jail in Jacmel
and had returned to the area, staying at the home of his mother-
in-law. According to sources, Laurès Jeudi, another thief and
former partner in crime, had asked Domond to carry out some acts
of revenge in the area. Jeudi is presently in jail for having
stolen the hamlet's solar panel last February (see Haïti Progrès,
Vol. 17, No. 1, 3/24/99).

Almost as soon as Domond arrived in the area, the population
mobilized and captured him, hiding in the house of a local
houngan (vodou priest), armed with a machete. The people tied up
both Domond and his mother-in-law and marched them down to the
city of Jacmel to turn them over to authorities as an escaped
convict and his accomplice.

In one of his most recent robberies last year, Domond ambushed a
peasant, shot him in the foot, and stole his money.

Domond and Jeudi are well-known and feared in the area of La
Voûte because they used to produce "Creole" and "artisanal" arms.
"Creole weapons" are usually crude handguns or rifles compiled
from the assorted parts of old or damaged firearms. "Artisanal
weapons" are firearms made from scratch by Haitian blacksmiths.
While the guns are rudimentary and sometimes misfire, they can be
deadly and are used by many rural and urban thieves.

The peasants of La Voûte are calling on officials in Jacmel to
take more vigorous steps to stop zenglendo robberies and
jailbreaks. The peasants say that they don't like that the
irresponsibility of local authorities keeps forcing them to take
matters into their own hands.

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