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a158: Detainee's kin is anti-Aristide (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Published Friday, December 28, 2001
Detainee's kin is anti-Aristide
Businessman's brother founded group calling for new elections
The brother of a Miami businessman detained in Haiti in connection with last
week's attempted coup is co-founder of a political organization that
bitterly opposes the rule of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Like his detained brother, Georges Sami Saati, 49, is a Haitian-born Miami
resident and U.S. citizen with extensive business interests in his homeland.
But a family acquaintance said the brothers are estranged over business
matters. Miami-Dade Circuit Court computer records indicate that Georges
Saati is being sued by his brother, Antoine Sami Saati.
Georges Saati recently helped found the Movement for National Unity, a group
calling for new elections to replace Aristide. The group goes by the acronym
of MOUN, which spells ``people'' in Creole.
In an indication of how MOUN regards Aristide, one page on the group's
website, headlined ``Terrorists,'' bears side-by-side pictures of the
Haitian president and Osama bin Laden and labels them ``Twin Brothers.''
The website also contains a letter written by Georges Saati to U.S. consular
officials in Port-au-Prince complaining that his business in Haiti, Simi
Global Corp., had been raided twice recently by 50 armed government security
officers who he claims stole nearly $3 million worth of merchandise from a
warehouse and vandalized more than 50 company delivery vehicles.
DAY AFTER ATTEMPT
The letter said the second raid came the day after the Dec. 17 coup attempt.
During the raid, Saati wrote, agents said they were carrying out an
``uprooting'' operation against business people who were trying to
destabilize the Aristide government.
MOUN was launched with the assistance of Olivier Nadal, president of Haiti's
Chamber of Commerce, according to Dominican newspaper articles on the
group's website, www.moun.com. The accounts indicate that Saati and another
leader of the group, Harry Joseph, a Haitian radio journalist based in New
York, had been in the Dominican Republic earlier this year courting support.
The failed coup came as Aristide's Lavalas Family party has been embroiled
in a months-long dispute with a coalition of opposition groups over
controversial legislative elections last year. It could not be determined
whether MOUN belongs to the coalition.
It was unclear also whether Saati's detained younger brother, Antoine, is
involved in the organization. Georges Saati did not respond to an e-mail
requesting an interview. Their sister, Gina Saati, vice president of Antoine
Saati's Miami company, did not return phone calls.
Gina Saati has denied that Antoine was involved in the coup. She contends
instead that her brother was arrested and beaten by Haitian police after he
went to serve legal papers in Port-au-Prince on a former employee, Eddy
Deeb, who he is suing in Miami-Dade civil court for theft of merchandise and
trademark infringement. Gina Saati said Deeb has ties to the Aristide
One family acquaintance says Antoine Saati avoided politics to focus on his
export-import company, One World Corp., which produces and sells candy,
snack foods and other products in the United States and Haiti under the
``Gina'' brand name.
``Tony is not the kind of guy to mix business and politics. He avoids
politics totally,'' said Leo Joseph, co-publisher of Haiti Observateur, a
Creole-language newspaper based in New York City. Joseph is not related to
Harry Joseph, the MOUN co-founder.
He described Georges Saati, on the other hand, as politically ``a very
active fellow, very energetic about his beliefs.''
Moreover, Leo Joseph said, ``Tony is not on good terms with his brother. The
brother and he broke two years ago over business dealings.''
Joseph said Antoine Saati is a legitimate and successful businessman who
studied economics at Boston University. He was the son of Palestinians who
emigrated to Haiti and became wealthy.
``He sounds more like a professor than a businessman. This guy is a
powerhouse of a brain,'' Joseph said. ``He has a lot of imagination. He
ventures where no other Haitian businessman will go.''
Haitian police say Antoine Saati is being questioned about the attempted
coup, which prompted counterattacks against homes and offices of opposition
groups by Aristide supporters. Three other men have been arrested in the
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