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a362: Haiti releases Miami businessman (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Haiti releases Miami businessman accused in coup plot

South-Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Gregory Lewis
and Madeline Baró Diaz Staff Writers
Posted January 15 2002

The president of a Miami import-export firm, who had
been detained for more than three weeks in Haiti in
connection with an attack on Haiti's National Palace,
was freed Monday by a judge's order.

Antoine Saati, 47, the Haitian-born president of One
World, a Miami-based, import-export business, said in
a telephone interview from an undisclosed location,
"I'm a free man now."

Saati said he was "keeping a low profile" because he
was concerned about his safety. His sister, Gina, said
her brother would remain in a secure location for at
least 48 hours.

Investigating Judge Bernard Sainvil ordered Saati's
release after Saati was questioned on Friday. Saati
was never charged in the Dec. 17 attack, which the
government described as a coup attempt. That day,
about two dozen armed men stormed the presidential
palace and remained there for about seven hours before

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was unharmed
in the attempted coup, but 10 others were killed and
nine were wounded in the attack and violence that

Saati has denied he was involved in the attack.

Gina Saati said her brother was resting in an
undisclosed location because "he needs to regain his

Saati spent much of his detention in a Port-au-Prince
hospital. He said he became ill after accidentally
drinking a bottle of disinfectant in his dark jail

Gina Saati said her brother was in good health,
although he sounded weak when she spoke with him
Monday morning before he received the news of his

She said upon hearing the news of freedom her brother
was "hit with a burst of adrenaline" and was eager to
leave Haiti.

Saati, arrested on Dec. 20, was one of six men
detained in connection with the attack. He was
arrested without a warrant and was detained without
charges being filed against him.

Judges failed to show for three previously scheduled
hearings, according to the family.

Antoine Saati and his sister blamed a former business
associate, with whom Antoine Saati was having a
separate dispute, of pulling strings to have Antoine
Saati arrested.

Antoine Saati's brother, George Saati, a member of an
anti-Aristide political party called MOUN (Mouvement
pour L'Unite Nationale), is an outspoken critic of
Aristide. But Antoine said he does not share his
brother's views.

The United States had filed a formal protest of
Saati's arrest in a diplomatic note to the Haitian
government. The State Department was unavailable for
comment Monday night.

Since her brother's arrest, Gina Saati has spent long
hours at the One World offices in downtown Miami,
calling senators' offices, the U.S. Embassy,
reporters, lawyers and anyone else she thought could
help her brother.

Once her brother returns to Miami, she said, "I'm
going to take a vacation."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Gregory Lewis can be reached at
glewis@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4203.

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