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#525: Four Haiti police commissioners arrested (fwd)


Four Haiti police commissioners arrested -report                    
01:50 p.m Sep 18, 1999 Eastern  By Jennifer Bauduy 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Four high-level Haitian police
officers have been arrested on suspicion of drug  trafficking, a local
radio station reported on Saturday. ``The chief inspection of the
Haitian National Police have detained four police commissioners for
questioning in an internal investigation,'' police spokesman Jean-Dady
Simeon told Radio Vision 2000. President Rene Preval travelled to
general police headquarters  on Friday to meet with police leaders in a
closed-door meeting  about the detentions, police sources said.      
Police officials were not immediately available on Saturday to    
provide further details, but a source close to the police said the   
commissioners of Petionville and of Croix-des-Bouquets, both cities in
the Port-au-Prince area, were among those detained. Last week, six
police officers were detained for allegedly  stealing hundreds of
kilograms of cocaine found on a boat in the  northern city of Cap
Haitien. On Wednesday, a Colombian man was arrested with six kilos    
of cocaine at Port-au-Prince's international airport.  Last Sunday,
police seized 15 pounds (7 kg) of cocaine and arrested at least nine
people with more than $1.6 million taped to their bodies heading for
Miami and Panama. Recently, the police commissioner of Carrefour, a
large suburban slum on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, was arrested 
for drug trafficking. Haiti's four-year-old national police force was
created after the dissolution of Haiti's repressive army in 1994.      
The 6,100-member force, the country's first demilitarized national
police force, was trained by the United Nations, and is considered by
some to be one of Haiti's few well-functioning institutions.  The
fledgling force has been plagued by drug trafficking and   allegations
of police brutality.  During the second week of September reports of a
police strike circulated throughout the country. Police officials
originally denied the reports, but at least one  police officer was
arrested for organising the strike in the central city of Hinche.      
Haiti's leading newspaper, The Nouvelliste, reported that police     in
the central city of Mirebalais were demanding a 250 percent pay increase
and a reduction of work hours from 12 to eight. Some observers blame low
police salaries for the high incidence  of drug trafficking. Police
officers make between $250 and $400 a month. A police inspector may make
between $500 and $600.