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24820: Chamberlain (news) Haiti-Jailed Official
Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 18 (AP) -- Haiti's former interior minister under
ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was charged Monday in connection
with killing political opponents last year, officials said.
Jocelerme Privert was removed before dawn from a private hospital in
Port-au-Prince, where he was being held while recovering from a hunger
strike protesting his detention, U.N. civilian police spokesman Dan
Privert, who had been held for a year without charges, was taken to St.
Marc, the town on Haiti's west coast where he allegedly helped orchestrate
killings of Aristide opponents during last year's uprising that led to
Aristide's ouster in February 2004 and his exile to South Africa.
The number of people killed in St. Marc on Feb. 11, 2004, and the
circumstances, have been disputed. On April 7, a U.N expert on human rights
said that he had a list of 25 people killed, while others say up to 60
The details of how Privert was charged weren't disclosed. By Monday
afternoon, Privert had left St. Marc and was expected back at the hospital
in the capital Port-au-Prince, about 60 miles away, Moskaluk said.
A spokesman for Haiti's interim government referred questions about
Privert to the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, a human rights groups
which has been following the case.
The group's president, Pierre Esperance, said he expected Privert to be
charged with masterminding the St. Marc killings and he was awaiting
details on the charges.
"It's good news because the process is working now," Esperance said.
"The victims must find justice at the same time as we have to respect the
rule of law."
Protesting his innocence and denouncing what he called inhumane
conditions in the capital's national penitentiary, Privert began a hunger
strike that lasted for nearly a month. He was hospitalized March 16.
U.N. spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona said Privert's condition had
improved enough for him to travel but further details were unavailable.
The international community and human rights groups have protested the
detention without charge of Privert, former Premier Yvon Neptune -- who was
hospitalized a week before Privert after a 19-day hunger strike -- as well
as dozens of other ex-officials of the Aristide government. Among the
critics were U.N. Security Council members who visited Haiti last week.