Feared Rightist Denies Link to Assassination
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ A feared loyalist of the former Duvalier dictatorship _ accused last month of scheming against the elected government _ on Wednesday denied involvement in the murder of an opposition leader.
A government statement read on state-run television late Tuesday said the men who assassinated rightist lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin on March 28 were agents of Franck Romain.
Romain telephoned The Associated Press on Wednesday and claimed the killing was in fact plotted by Mondesir Beaubrun, the interior minister of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Romain fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic in February after arrest warrants were issued accusing him of plotting against national security.
``I accuse Gen. Beaubrun and other members of the Aristide government of having killed Bertin and having planned other assassinations,″ Romain said.
However, many Haitians think Mrs. Bertin, a vehement critic of Aristide and a top official of the former military regime, was killed by other Aristide opponents to discredit the popular president and embarrass the United States, which reinstated him in October. The army had ousted Aristide in 1991.
Romain is widely believed responsible for ordering some of the worst recent massacres in Haiti, including a 1988 attack on a church as Aristide, a priest, was saying Mass. Twelve parishioners were killed and 77 wounded. During the brutal Duvalier family dictatorship, which ended in 1986, Romain served as police chief and mayor of Port-au-Prince.
Beaubrun, Aristide’s interior minister, was implicated in the assassination of Mrs. Bertin by Maj. Gen. George Fischer, the American who commanded the multinational force in Haiti.
In a letter dated March 22, six days before the slaying, Fischer told Justice Minister Jean-Joseph Exhume, ``We do not know whether or not these allegations are true. However, the fact that a minister has been implicated is especially serious.″
Tuesday night’s televised statement by the unidentified government official said the allegations against Beaubrun are ``trumped up.″ He said the FBI, which is investigating the slaying along with Haitian authorities, could corroborate this.
However, U.S. Embassy spokesman Stan Schrager said Wednesday that the FBI hasn’t finished its investigation.
Beaubrun has denied any involvement in the murder of Mrs. Bertin, 35.
Maj. Gen. Fischer said a Haitian interpreter with the multinational force, Claude Douge, had told force officials that a man named Patrick Moise told him he had been hired by Beaubrun to kill Mrs. Bertin and was given an Uzi submachine to carry out the task. Douge has since been imprisoned.
Members of the multinational force arrested Moise, his brother Eddi and several others on March 19 _ nine days before the assassination _ after they arrived at Douge’s home in a car registered to the Interior Ministry, Fischer’s letter said.
It said the brothers were also carrying papers containing Beaubrun’s phone number and a list of lawyers, including Mrs. Bertin, who may have participated in the bloody 1991 coup that overthrew Aristide.
The Moise brothers were among dozens of people who occupied the Canadian Embassy for several weeks after Aristide was ousted. They were denied political asylum and handed over to the army regime, which subsequently released them.