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17981: (Chamberlain) Haitian students and police fight over cadaver (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Amy Bracken
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Anti-government activists
clashed with police and supporters of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide on Friday as they marched through the capital with the coffin of a
man killed in a recent demonstration.
The unrest was the latest in a spate of clashes between supporters and
opponents of Aristide in recent months.
Social sciences student Maxime Deselmours, 32, was shot dead by a
drive-by gunman during an anti-Aristide march on Jan. 7, according to
witnesses. Other demonstrators blamed the president for Deselmours' death,
saying the gunman was commissioned by Aristide to terrorize his critics.
At the funeral, the priest condemned what he called the
administration's corruption and human rights abuses. A crowd of more than
100 interrupted him with chants of "Down with Aristide!" and "Too much
blood is flowing; Aristide must go!"
After the funeral, several hundred activists tried to carry
Deselmours' coffin toward the National Palace. Funeral administrator Ronald
Lefranc said carrying coffins through the streets is against the law.
When the crowd approached the palace, police fired into the air and
tried to push it back, and civilians in cars and on foot shot toward the
demonstrators, witnesses said.
Aristide supporters circled the area for several minutes, firing guns
and throwing rocks, according to a Reuters journalist on the scene.
After many of them dispersed, about 100 anti-government demonstrators
resumed marching with the coffin. While police fired tear gas, they loaded
the coffin onto a pickup truck and drove it to a university building.
Students burned cars and piles of tires, and threw rocks at
The demonstrators stayed in the school grounds for several hours, as
police fired guns and tear gas. They finally agreed to release the body to
the family of the dead man.
Aristide, restored to power in 1994 by a U.S.-led invasion, was
elected for a second term in 2000. But he has been locked in a political
dispute with opponents over tainted results of parliamentary elections that
year and accusations of corruption and political violence.
Several people have been killed in recent months in attacks by
pro-Aristide gunmen on increasingly large anti-government marches. The
government blames the opposition for the bloodshed.