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#3177: Haitians Mourn Assassinated Writer (fwd)


Saturday April 8 1:39 PM ET  Haitians Mourn Assassinated Writer

 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Thousands of people jammed into a soccer
stadium Saturday to remember a prominent Haitian journalist who was
assassinated this week outside his radio station. President Rene Preval
and former President Jean-Bertrand Arisitide, both allies of slain
broadcaster Jean Dominique, were among the 15,000 people who attended
the three-hour service in Port-au-Prince. ``You died for Haiti,''
Dominique's sister, Madeleine Paillere, said tearfully over his casket.
``You died because you told the truth.'' Preval did not speak, but his
administration awarded Dominique the Honor and Merit Medal - Haiti's
highest distinction ``in consideration of his inestimable     
contribution to the construction and reinforcement of democracy.''  
Dominique, 69, the country's most influential journalist and opinion
maker, was  gunned down Monday morning as he pulled into the courtyard
of Radio Haiti Inter, the station he owned and directed. He was about to
do his morning newscast when the two unidentified gunmen killed him and
the station caretaker. The assassination followed street violence in the
capital last week as the government continued to delay calling
 for elections. Officials have been bogged down in organizing the
long-delayed vote to install a new parliament and have not been able to
set a date. Radio Vision 2000, a station well-known for its
anti-government stand, has called on police to give reporters
 security after repeated death threats. The government honored Dominique
with a three-day period of national mourning that began Thursday. Stores
 shut down Saturday to honor the man who had championed free speech
against civilian and military dictatorships for the past 40 years and
was one of most influential figures in this strife-torn Caribbean
nation. Mourners filed by to pay their respects to Dominique, whose open
casket was displayed under a white canopy in the middle of the soccer
field. ``He struggled to change the system radically,'' said Sony
Esteus, who worked at Dominique's radio station. ``If he was killed it
is proof that the system has not changed.'' During the otherwise
peaceful and solemn ceremony a few dozen militant Aristide supporters
shouted death threats at opposition politician Evans Paul and vowed
revenge on the people who did the killing. After the service, hundreds
of protesters threatened to ransack Paul's party headquarters.
 Dominique was cremated and his ashes were to be scattered in the
Artibonite River in central Haiti, where he obtained a degree in
agronomy before his radio career and passionately followed the
government's attempt at land reform to settle disputes between peasants
and landowners. In the 1970's, Dominique spearheaded the free-speech
movement against the dictatorial regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Duvalier shut his station down in November 1981, and Dominique fled into
exile. He returned after a popular uprising toppled Duvalier and
reopened his station, which was closed down again in September 1990 when
the army ousted then-president Aristide, whom Dominique supported and
followed into exile in the United States. A U.N. force led by 20,000
U.S. troops moved into Haiti in 1994 and restored Aristide to power.
Dominique was a close ally of the administration of Aristide and his
successor Preval.