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a771: Haiti police say weekend arrests not political (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Haitian authorities said on
Wednesday that the weekend arrests of two people with links to opposition
parties were part of a criminal investigation and were not political
motivated, as has been alleged by opposition members.
Haitian National Police commissar Jeannot Francois told a news
conference that Jean Mandenave, a former deputy in the Haitian parliament,
and Edgar Bruno, both of the Confederation of Democratic Unity opposition
party (KID), were taken into custody along with several known members of a
kidnapping ring last weekend.
"Mr. Mandenave and Mr. Bruno were present with the suspects during the
mission and were taken into custody accordingly," Francois said. The
arrests took place during a police sweep of the capital's Cite Soleil and
Petionville neighborhoods, Francois said.
He said they were being held at the national penitentiary and a
magistrate would examine their case to see if charges would be filed.
KID leader Evans Paul, whose party is part of the opposition
Democratic Convergence coalition, denounced the arrests. "This is another
example of actions to thwart negotiations and we demand these individuals
be immediately released," Paul said.
Paul was referring to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's call
for the opposition to sit down with his government and resolve an electoral
dispute that has festered for 20 months in the impoverished Caribbean
Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of bad faith in the
negotiation process. The burning of Convergence member party headquarters
and homes by pro-government mobs in the wake of a failed coup attempt last
December further exacerbated relations between the two camps.