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a153: Haiti government to probe post-coup mob violence (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Michael Deibert
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The Haitian government appointed a
special prosecutor on Thursday to investigate an attempted coup last week
and said it would probe violence by its own supporters in the wake of the
assault on the National Palace.
Justice Minister Gary Lissade appointed Judge Bernard Sainvil to head
the investigation into the palace attack and resulting mob violence in
which 13 people including a gunman and two police officers were killed.
Some 30 armed men stormed the palace in downtown Port-au-Prince on
Dec. 17 and were beaten back by police and palace security guards. The
government has said they were former members of the Haitian army, disbanded
by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the mid-1990s.
The attack revived concerns about Haiti's attempt to establish
democracy following decades of dictatorship and military rule. Aristide
became the first freely elected leader of the impoverished Caribbean nation
and its 8 million people in 1991 but was overthrown by the military a few
He was restored by a U.S.-led invasion force in 1994 and was reelected
president in a national vote boycotted by opposition parties last November.
Aristide and the opposition have been at odds ever since, primarily over
disputed parliamentary elections held in May 2000.
Speaking on private Radio Metropole, prosecution coordinator Jose
Pierre Louis announced Sainvil's appointment and said he would look into
both the coup attempt and subsequent mob violence in which opposition party
offices and the homes of opposition politicians were torched.
"Those who committed violence on Dec. 17 will be brought before the
Haitian courts and have to answer for their actions," said Pierre Louis, a
judge in charge of investigations. "They will be tried and judged according
to the laws of the republic."
Dominican President Hipolito Mejia, heard on Radio Metropole in the
Haitian capital, said his police were actively looking for Guy Philippe,
the former Cap Haitien police chief accused of plotting the failed coup.
Philippe was deported this week from Ecuador to the Dominican
Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola.
"We will employ all necessary means to find Guy Philippe," Mejia said.
"The Dominican Republic is not a place where people can plot against