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a152: Miami businessman detained in connection with Haiti coup effort (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Miami businessman detained in connection with Haiti coup effort
By Madeline Baró
and Tim Collie Staff Writers

December 27, 2001

A Haitian-born U.S. citizen who lives in Miami has been detained since last 
week in Haiti in connection with a failed coup attempt a week before 
Christmas, authorities and the man's sister said on Wednesday.

But the sister of the man, identified as Antoine Sami Saati, 47, said he was 
in Haiti trying to resolve a bitter business dispute, not to overthrow the 

Saati was detained last Thursday during an apparent dispute over a 
copyright. On Wednesday, police said he was being held for questioning in 
connection with the Dec. 17 attack by more than 20 armed men on the National 
Palace. Authorities would not give further information about what role 
police think he played.

The president and founder of One World, a Miami-based import/export 
business, Saati has been in a Port-au-Prince hospital under police guard 
since Sunday. His sister said he was beaten by police and went on a hunger 

There have been three other confirmed detentions: Pierre Richardson, a 
suspected attacker; Guy François, an alleged coup plotter; and Jean Dumel, 
the caretaker of a house where police think some of the attackers stayed 
before the incident. A police spokesman, Jean-Dady Simeon, said 
investigators have detained several other people in connection with the coup 
plot but would not say how many.

Saati "needs help," said his sister, Gina Saati. "This man is in trouble. 
All I want is to get my brother back. This man is an important man who is 
needed back home."

Antoine Saati had traveled to Haiti to settle a dispute with a competitor he 
accuses of illegally copying food products that One World makes, his sister 
said. Last Thursday, Saati went to his rival's business accompanied by 
police. But the police turned on him and beat him, Gina Saati said. She 
blames the business rival, who she says is a supporter of President 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and his family.

Police handcuffed Antoine Saati so tightly that his wrists swelled, his 
sister said. He was thrown in jail, not allowed to use a phone and not 
allowed visitors until the following day, she said.

Antoine Saati has been involved in U.S. litigation against the man 
identified by his sister as the business rival. Miami-Dade County Circuit 
Court records show Saati has been involved in a civil suit against the rival 
since 1999. The cause of the dispute could not be determined Wednesday 
night. The Sun-Sentinel is not identifying the man because he could not be 

Gina Saati says she has been frustrated in her attempts to seek help from 
U.S. consular officials, although she says her brother was visited by 
someone from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. They have not done enough, she says.

"My body is palpitating from stress," she said. "I am totally desperate for 
the life of my brother."

Judith Trunzo, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, said: 
"There was an American that has come under police arrest. He has signed a 
privacy act, though, and we are not permitted under law to discuss his case 
or anything about him."

Antoine Saati got sick Saturday night after he was given a drink, told it 
was water, but found it was actually a liquid cleanser, she said. He started 
vomiting and was eventually taken to the hospital where his stomach was 

About two dozen gunmen stormed Haiti's National Palace early Dec. 17, taking 
control of the building for about seven hours before police took it back. 
Aristide was not at the palace at the time.

At least 10 people were killed and nine wounded in the palace attack and 
subsequent violence.

On Wednesday, authorities said they arrested Dumel, the caretaker of a 
Port-au-Prince house where a dozen suspected attackers stayed. Dumel, 36, 
has been held at a suburban police station since his detention Friday and is 
likely to be charged with complicity, Simeon said.

Police also were seeking the house's owner, Albert Dorelien, whose brother 
was a colonel in Haiti's disbanded army. The palace attackers wore the 
fatigues of the former army, which ousted Aristide in a 1991 coup during his 
first presidential term. U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994.

The opposition has accused the government of staging the palace attack as a 
pretext to crack down on dissenters.

Also on Wednesday, the Haitian foreign ministry sent a letter to the 
neighboring Dominican Republic asking for more cooperation in stopping 
alleged coup plotters from fleeing there, said Hugo Tolentino Dipp, the 
Dominican foreign minister.

Guy Philippe, a former police official and suspected coup plotter, fled to 
the Dominican Republic in October 2000 with six other police officers 
accused of trying to overthrow the government. Philippe has been implicated 
in last week's attack but denied involvement.

Staff Writer Thomas Monnay contributed to this report, which was 
supplemented with information from The Associated Press.

Tim Collie can be reached at tcollie@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4573.
Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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