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9895: ARISTIDE BACKERS SUSPECTED IN JOURNALIST'S SLAYING (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 6 (IPS) -- A regional journalists' association
expressed concern today about the safety of media workers here, even as
suspicion swirled around government supporters in the slaying on Nov. 3 of
a radio reporter.
Brignol Lindor, news director at privately-run Echo 2000 in Petit Goave,
77 kilometers southwest of this capital, was killed by unidentified
assailants suspected of being partisans of the ruling Lavalas party.
Today, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) issued a
statement expressing its "shock and condemnation."
"We believe there is strong reason to connect his murder to recent death
threats received by him from persons opposed to his choice of radio talk
show guests," the association said. "We call on the Haitian authorities to
take strong action to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are
brought to justice in an expeditious fashion."
"We further urge that special attention be paid to the safety and
security of all media workers in view of a recent upsurge in violence
against journalists especially in the cities of Port-au- Prince, St Marc
and Les Cayes, and in Petit Goave where Mr. Lindor worked," added the
The gang suspected in Lindor's killing reportedly had set out to avenge
the beating earlier on Dec. 3 of a government supporter at the site of a
rally called to urge President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation. The
opposition protest was organized by the Democratic Convergence coalition.
Especially troubling to the ACM and to journalists here, a town council
member turned over Lindor to his killers. The victim had been riding in a
car driven by a friend when his attackers began stoning the vehicle.
Lindor's friend fled and the victim took refuge in the nearby home of the
council member, who proceeded to deliver the journalist to the mob.
The body was collected four hours after the murder. No police report was
filed and the crime scene was not secured. No arrests have been made.
Echo 2000 suspended its broadcasts after news of the murder was
announced, citing security concerns.
Echo 2000 Director Arbrun Alezi told IPS that, since Nov. 28, local
officials of the ruling party had issued several public threats against
Lindor, the station's news director and moderator of the political talk
"The town's mayor, Emmanuel Antoine, called the radio station that day
and threatened to shut us down. During a Friday (Nov. 30) press conference,
Dumay Bony, Petit Goave's deputy mayor, threatened to enforce the 'zero
tolerance rule'" against Lindor and opposition figures invited on the show,
In particular, local Lavalas officials took umbrage at the show's
broadcast on the eve of a general strike in the country's south called by
Lindor's colleagues also recalled his telling them that "chimes" --
vigilantes loyal to the regime -- had made verbal death threats against
Aristide introduced in June a "zero tolerance" policy on crime under
which due-process rights have been waived for defendants said by police to
have been caught red-handed in the commission of crimes.
The policy, rights groups and the opposition alike have charged,
effectively opened a Pandora's box of summary executions, vigilante
justice, political killings, and tolerance for such crimes. Lynchings have
since become more common and Lindor's murder -- at the hands of a mob and
with little subsequent interest -- has become a symbol of their concerns.
Police officials have condemned opponents of the policy. Harassment of
opponents prompted the New York-based National Coalition for Haitian Rights
(NCHR) to write Oct. 18 to Prime Minister and police overseer Jean Marie
Cherestal to denounce the threats and urge action to curb them.
Despite the government's ostensible crackdown on crime, critics have
charged, offenders connected to Lavalas have been allowed to roam at
These include Paul Raymond and Rene Civil, leaders of grassroots groups
loyal to the Aristide regime. The two have accused human rights
organizations of exploiting political crisis in the country to bolster the
Raymond and Civil have had several arrest warrants issued against them
in connection with the investigation of the Apr. 3, 2000, murder of
prominent journalist Jean Leopold Dominique and a security guard at his
radio station. None of the warrants has been served and apparent police
neglect of the case has drawn expressions of concern, most recently, from
the ACM, which referred to the case in its statement today.
Diplomats and political analysts, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said they were bracing for a further escalation in violence against the
media as the political situation continues to deteriorate. Nearly a dozen
journalists have reported being attacked, questioned by police, or
threatened by pro-government groups since October.