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Panama Won’t Extradite Raoul Cedras

November 13, 1999

PANAMA CITY (AP) _ Panama has again turned down a request to end the political asylum of former Haitian military leader Raoul Cedras, whose brutal government prompted a U.S. invasion in 1994.

``It would be a dangerous precedent to grant the right of asylum to resolve a political problem in a neighboring country and later deny the rights of those given asylum,″ the foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.

Human Rights Watch had asked the Panamanian government to extradite or try Cedras and Phillipe Biamby, the country’s former military head.

Cedras led a coup in 1991 against democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He and Biamby were granted asylum in Panama after being ousted by the United States.

``The territorial asylum that Panama gave Cedras was at the request of the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, to achieve peace and democracy in Haiti,″ the foreign ministry said.

Panama rejected Haiti’s request for Cedras’ extradition in 1998. The Haitian government announced in September it would try Cedras _ in absentia if necessary _ in connection with a 1994 massacre that killed at least 30 people in a neighborhood filled with Aristide supporters.

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