Tue, Jun 29, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Ex-premier turns turns himself in to Haitian authorities


The premier of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was detained on Sunday on suspicion of orchestrating killings during the February rebellion, officials said. Others said Yvon Neptune turned himself in voluntarily.

Neptune was detained without resistance at a residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said.

"We want to bring national reconciliation because what we want is the law to prevail in this country," Latortue said in a telephone interview conducted in English. "We want a new time of respect for the law."

An official of Aristide's Lavalas Family party, former legislator Gilvert Angervil, said Neptune surrendered because he knew authorities were looking for him.

Neptune is being held in connection with the mid-February killings of several Aristide opponents in St. Marc, a western port where violence flared during the uprising that forced Aristide from power and killed at least 300 people. As rebels neared St. Marc and police fled the city, Neptune flew there in a helicopter with police reinforcements Feb. 8, according to witnesses and reporters who were there at the time.

On Feb. 9, police moved on a seaside neighborhood known to house government opponents and acted as shields for members of the pro-Aristide "Clean Sweep" gang who followed them, set homes aflame and gunned down people trying to escape the blazes, according to witnesses including US missionary Terry Snow.

Some people jumped into the sea to get away from gunmen who shot into the air to stop them returning to land, Snow said at the time.

Neptune is the highest ranking official to be detained since Aristide's departure Feb. 29.

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