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#3469: Station of slain Haitian journalist again on air (fwd)


WIRE:05/03/2000 17:11:00 ET
Station of slain Haitian journalist again on air
PETIONVILLE, Haiti (Reuters) - After a month of silence  following the
slaying of station owner and prominent Haitian  journalist Jean
Dominique, Radio Haiti Inter was back on the air Wednesday for World
Press Freedom Day.  "When Jean died we felt that it would be too easy
for his  enemies to obtain our silence -- if the objective was to keep
us  silent, we felt that we should do exactly the opposite, which  means
we should continue," Dominique's widow, Michele Montas,  told Reuters.  
Dominique, 69, a longtime democracy activist and adviser to  President
Rene Preval, was gun downed by unknown assailants as  he arrived for his
morning  newscast, which he co-hosted with  Montas, on April 3. A
security guard was also killed.  Dominique's fiery political
commentaries had earned  him  enemies across the political spectrum. His
murder sent Haitians  into shock and raised fears of spiraling      
violence.  For the 30 days since the murder only the low hiss of       
static  could be heard on the air of the popular station Dominique had 
founded in the 1970s and ran with his family.  The station reopened at 7
a.m. Wednesday, the usual time of  Dominique's newscast, and aired some
of his popular programs  throughout the day.  Today is international
press freedom day, we wanted to  honor Jean, who died because he wasn't
afraid to talk," said  journalist Guerlande Eloi.  Preval and his wife
Guerda arrived as the station reopened,  and sat with Montas most of the
morning. "He came as a close friend of Jean's, a friend of the      
past  20 years, and not as a head of state," said Montas,sitting in  the
chair Dominique had occupied daily for  his afternoon talk  show 'Face a
l'Opinion'. The bullet-ridden facade of Radio Haiti Inter in    
Petionville, the hilly suburb above the capital, was a chilling 
reminder of the persecution Dominique lived with for more than  three
decades. He kept the bullets fired at his station in a  bowl on his
desk.  "We used to laugh about them. Then it was very possible, we 
expected death, like something that could happen any day. But we  didn't
expect it in this  season," said Montas.  Dominique, an agronomist by
trade, twice fled into exile  with his family, first during the regime
of exiled dictator  Jean-Claude Duvalier and again during the   
military coup that  overthrew Haiti's first freely elected President
Jean-Bertrand  Aristide in 1991.  "We don't know what the real
objectives of killing Jean  were... It is obvious that one of the
objectives was to  influence the political landscape in Haiti,"        
Montas said.Haiti is expected to hold legislative and municipal
elections in just two and a half weeks. After repeated postponements of
the poll, many candidates have run out of campaign funds and little
election activity is evident in the capital.But in the past month
political related killings and other violence have escalated."We are
dealing with a situation that is very confused, particularly in an
electoral situation that is not at all  clear,to anyone, to any
journalist, to any one in the street," Montas  said.