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8122: Events in Haiti (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(31 May 01)

Former President Prosper Avril was arrested on May 26 and jailed on charges
of subversion, drawing a protest from the opposition Convergence
Démocratique (CD) coalition, which said it would not negotiate with the
government until it freed him and CD supporter Gabriel Fortuné, an
outspoken former parliamentary deputy of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
ruling Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party.  Fortuné was arrested on May 21 after an
armed clash between FL and CD supporters in Les Cayes in which three FL
supporters were wounded.  
        Gen Avril, 64, was detained by masked special police under a
six-year-old warrant as he presided over the launch of his latest book at a
Pétionville restaurant.  As head of a small right-wing party, Credo, he
recently took part in an opposition meeting to discuss the political
        Several top CD leaders were beaten and tortured during Avril's
1988-90 regime and later awarded a total $41 million compensation by a US
court (which has never been paid), but one of them, Evans Paul, said he was
interested in "reconciliation," not "revenge" against Avril.  
        Meanwhile, a joint OAS-Caricom mediation mission led by OAS
secretary-general Cesar Gaviria and the former prime minister of Dominica,
Eugenia Charles, arrived in Port-au-Prince on May 29.
        Amnesty International said on May 30 that the human rights
situation in Haiti was worse last year than at any time since the end of
military rule in 1994.  It said FL supporters were often to blame for
violence and threats and that pro-Aristide local elected officials had set
up their owned armed groups.
        The government and four policemen who were jailed for the execution
in May 1999 of 11 unarmed youths in the Carrefour-Feuilles suburb of the
capital were ordered by a Haitian judge on May 29 to pay $35 million
compensation to the victims' families. 
        Former police chief Sen. Dany Toussaint accused ex-justice minister
Camille Leblanc and other former government officials on May 30 of trying
to destroy him politically by spreading rumours that he had been indicted
on May 25 by Judge Claudy Gassant, who is due to present the result of his
probe into last year's murder of prominent journalist Jean Dominique. 
Toussaint said there has been no serious investigation into the killing.
        President Aristide launched a national literacy campaign on May 28.
 Haiti's illiteracy rate is put at between 55 and 75 per cent.