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#959: Panama Won't Extradite Cedras (fwd)


Panama Won't Extradite Raoul Cedras

.c The Associated Press

PANAMA CITY (AP) - Panama has again turned down a request to end the 
political asylum of former Haitian military leader Raoul Cedras, whose brutal 
government prompted a U.S. invasion in 1994. 

``It would be a dangerous precedent to grant the right of asylum to resolve a 
political problem in a neighboring country and later deny the rights of those 
given asylum,'' the foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. 

Human Rights Watch had asked the Panamanian government to extradite or try 
Cedras and Phillipe Biamby, the country's former military head. 

Cedras led a coup in 1991 against democratically elected President 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He and Biamby were granted asylum in Panama after 
being ousted by the United States. 

``The territorial asylum that Panama gave Cedras was at the request of the 
secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, to 
achieve peace and democracy in Haiti,'' the foreign ministry said. 

Panama rejected Haiti's request for Cedras' extradition in 1998. The Haitian 
government announced in September it would try Cedras - in absentia if 
necessary - in connection with a 1994 massacre that killed at least 30 people 
in a neighborhood filled with Aristide supporters. 

AP-NY-11-12-99 2102EST

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.