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a148: Haiti seeks alleged leader of coup attempt (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Michael Deibert
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Haiti is seeking the
extradition of the alleged leader of an attack on the National Palace last
week, and authorities arrested two more suspects in what the government
calls an attempted coup, police said on Wednesday.
The government wants Guy Philippe, a former police chief in the
northern city of Cap Haitien, returned to Haiti from the neighboring
Dominican Republic, where he is believed to be hiding, Haitian National
Police spokesman Jean Dady Simeon said at a news conference.
"The government believes he is in the Dominican Republic, and we are
actively seeking his extradition," Simeon told reporters.
Dominican authorities said on Wednesday that they were searching for
Philippe, who entered the country on Tuesday night after being thrown out
of Ecuador. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the Caribbean island of
About 30 armed men identified by the government as former members of
Haiti's disbanded army attacked the National Palace on Dec. 17 in what
authorities said was an attempt to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide. Opposition politicians said the attack was staged as a pretext to
crack down on opposition parties, the media and civil rights groups.
The attack raised the prospect of a return to Haiti's violent past as
the poor nation of 8 million people struggles to throw off decades of
dictatorship and military rule. At least 13 people including a gunman and
two police officers died in the assault and the resulting mob violence in
the streets of the capital and other cities.
Police said on Wednesday that they had arrested two more people for
alleged complicity in the attack, bringing to four the number of arrests.
They identified the suspects as Jean Dumesle, a housekeeper in the
residence of a relative of a former Haitian army colonel, and Anthony
Saati, an executive in a food distribution company.
Two other suspects, Pierre Richardson, a former soldier, and Guy
Francois, a former Haitian army colonel, were arrested on the day of the
Dumesle said that several meetings were held at the home where he
worked and that Haitian and Dominican nationals planned the coup attempt
there, police said.
Police discovered a cache of weapons at the home, Simeon said.
Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected leader, was deposed by the
military soon after taking power in 1991. He was restored by a U.S.-led
invasion force in 1994 and disbanded the Haitian army shortly afterward.
Aristide was re-elected president in elections in November 2000 that
were boycotted by the opposition.
Former soldiers and some opposition politicians have campaigned for
the restoration of the army as Haiti's civilian police force has struggled
to maintain security in the country.