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8950: Article: Haiti Opposition Members Released (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <dgcraig@att.net>

Haiti Opposition Members Released
Filed at 12:01 a.m. ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- A judge dismissed weapons charges against
two opposition party members and ordered their release Friday, two days
after they were arrested in a police raid of their party's headquarters.

Police stormed the headquarters of the Convention of Democratic Unity
party on Wednesday and arrested six opposition militants after allegedly
finding weapons and munitions in a false ceiling.  Opposition leaders
claimed the arrests were part of a clampdown on opponents by President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government.

Judge Barthelemy Alcidor will rule in the cases of the other four
opposition party members on Tuesday, their lawyer Reynold Georges said.

"The aim of the arrests was to destabilize and destroy our party," said
released party member Roselaure Aubourg. She was freed along with fellow
party member Amyto Altidor.

Party leader Evans Paul accused the police of planting the weapons.

The government has recently accused the opposition of plotting a coup
with ex-soldiers from the disbanded Haitian army. The opposition has
denied this and has said the government is looking for excuses to detain
opposition partisans.

The office of Paul's party has previously been the center of conflict.
In April 2000, armed street activists loyal to Aristide stormed the
party's former headquarters. Police stood by and did not intervene while
the activists torched the building. No one has been charged with arson
in the case.

This week's arrests came amid government accusations the opposition has
been trying to sabotage internationally mediated efforts to resolve a
15-month political crisis.

The opposition claims legislative and local elections won by Aristide's
party last year were fraudulent, and the international community has
suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in aid until a political
consensus is reached and some results have been revised.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company