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Police Arrest Brother of Coup Leader

April 19, 1996

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Police have arrested the brother of the man who engineered the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a week after the coup leader himself was arrested in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Evens Francois was arrested at his home in the Delmas suburb on Thursday and was being held at Petionville police station. A warrant for his arrest accused him of ``destabilizing public order,″ but he had not been formally charged with any crime.

For the three years of military rule following the September 1991 coup that ousted then-President Aristide, Francois represented the military government in Haiti as consul general in the Dominican Republic.

The coup’s ringleader Michel Francois became Port-au-Prince police chief, directing a network of thugs that terrorized people. He crossed the border into the Dominican Republic in October 1994, two weeks after the United States led a multinational intervention that restored Aristide to power.

In September, the former police chief was convicted in absentia for his part in the 1993 assassination of Antoine Izmery, a businessman who helped raise money for Aristide, and was sentenced to life at hard labor.

On April 12, Dominican authorities arrested him and former Port-au-Prince Mayor Franck Romain, accusing them of plotting against the Haitian government. Neither has been formally charged.

Haitian officials apparently do not want Francois extradited because they have no maximum security prison and jailbreaks are common.

``It would be better for the Haitian people if destabilizers are kept out of the way,″ said President Rene Preval, who succeeded Aristide on Feb. 7.

Romain is widely believed responsible for ordering several massacres, including a 1988 attack on a church that killed 12 parishioners and wounded 77.

Honduras announced Thursday it would give asylum to Michel Francois and Romain, saying it considers them ``victims of political persecution.″

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