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a175: Dominicans arrest alleged Haitian coup plotter (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Manuel Jimenez
SANTO DOMINGO, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Dominican authorities have arrested
a former Haitian police chief wanted for his alleged involvement earlier
this month in what neighboring Haitian authorities call an attempted coup,
the Dominican president said.
Guy Philippe was tracked down in the north of the country on Thursday
and is now under house arrest, President Hipolito Mejia said.
Mejia gave no word whether his government would grant an extradition
request from Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government.
Philippe has denied any involvement in the Dec. 17 attack on the
presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, which the Haitian government
believes was a coup attempt against Aristide. At least 13 people were
killed in the attack and ensuing mob violence in the streets of the capital
and other cities.
Philippe entered the Dominican Republic after being thrown out of
Ecuador, where he had fled after the alleged coup attempt was thwarted. He
had been barred from the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of
Hispaniola with Haiti, but managed to enter again on Tuesday night,
Mejia, speaking to reporters on Friday, said Philippe was being held
by security forces at a private residence and his situation was "under
Dominican authorities hunted for him throughout the country. Officials
said he was found on Thursday afternoon at a friend's house in Bonao, about
56 miles (90 km) north of the capital, Santo Domingo.
"This case will be dealt with next week by the Foreign Ministry,"
Mejia also sought to quash any speculation his government might be
involved in the alleged coup attempt or any action to destabilize the
Haitian government. "I am democratically elected and it would be bad for me
to take any anti-democratic action against a friendly government," he said.
Haitian authorities have said Philippe led the plot involving former
members of Haiti's disbanded army. The army was abolished after the 1994
U.S. military invasion, which ended a military dictatorship and restored
Aristide to power.
Former soldiers and some opposition politicians have campaigned for
restoration of the army as Haiti's civilian police force has struggled to
maintain security in the country.
Aristide won a second term in office last year, but 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