U.S. Letter Reveals Details of Bertin Assassination
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ A letter from a U.S. general to Haiti’s justice minister details how U.S. officials came to learn of a plot to murder a prominent opposition leader.
The letter, made available to the Associated Press on Tuesday, shed light on the assassination which some observers think was an effort to discredit President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and embarrass the United States.
President Clinton on Friday declared the American intervention in Haiti a success when he handed over command of the multinational force to the United Nations.
Maj. Gen. George Fischer, who commanded the U.S.-led force, wrote in his Mar. 22 letter that Interior Secretary Mondesir Beaubrun was believed to be involved in a conspiracy to kill Mireille Durocher Bertin.
Beaubrun this week denied having anything to do with the killing.
Bertin, a right-wing lawyer and top official of the former army-installed government, was shot to death six days after forming a political party.
``We do not know whether or not these allegations are true,″ Fischer wrote in the letter to Justice Minister Jean Joseph Exume. ``However, the fact that a minister has been implicated is especially serious.″
According to Fischer, a Haitian interpreter for the multinational force, Claude Douge, told authorities he had been given an Uzi submachine gun by a man, Patric Moise, who said Beaubrun had hired him to assassinate Bertin. Douge then surrendered the weapon to the U.S.-led troops.
State TV broadcast a government statement Tuesday evening accusing Douge of framing the interior minister. The statement, which state TV said was released by an official whom it didn’t name, also accused the Moise brothers of being agents of the former military-installed regime.
``The result of the FBI and Haitian investigation denounces it (Douge’s story) as a frame-up,″ said the statement read during the evening newscast.
Haitian officials weren’t immediately available for comment.
The statement said Beaubrun couldn’t have gotten an Uzi because the multinational force confiscated all private weapons in Haiti. However, most military officials acknowledge there still are thousands of firearms in circulation.
Multinational forces arrested Moise, his brother Eddi and several others on March 19 after they came to Douge’s home in a gray Isuzu Trooper registered to the Interior Ministry, Fischer’s letter said.
The men were also carrying papers containing Beaubrun’s phone number and a list of lawyers, including Bertin, who may have participated in the September 1991 coup that overthrew Aristide.
A source close to Douge told the AP that the Moise brothers came to Douge asking for help, because they had cold feet about taking part in the assassination.
Douge promised to contact American officials and explain the Moises’ situation, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The FBI is investigating the slaying of Bertin, and five specialists from the U.S. Army Institute of Pathology came to conduct a post-mortem on the body.