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28554: Blanchet: (news): Haiti drops lawsuit against Aristide (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

Haiti drops lawsuit against Aristide



Haiti's government has dropped its corruption lawsuit against ex-President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a Miami federal court, leaving the door open to re-
file it later.

The lawsuit, which accused the ousted leader of stealing ''tens of millions of
dollars'' from the Haitian treasury and state-owned telephone company, was
dropped by the government in a notice filed Monday with the court. It gave no
reason for the decision.

The Haitian government reserved the legal right to re-file the suit later
against Aristide and others in his administration, which collapsed under
pressure from an armed rebellion in 2004.

Lawyers for the Haitian government had asked a Miami federal judge for more
time in March to pursue the suit, arguing they were unable to serve a summons
on Aristide because he is living in exile in South Africa.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke granted the request.

Then last month the Haitian government's lawyers gave Port-au-Prince officials
until June 30 to decide on a legal course of action -- pursue the suit now or
drop it temporarily.

Former interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue has said the real cause of the
delay was a dispute over money with the Chicago law firm handling the civil
case. The firm, Winston & Strawn, did not reply to requests for comment.

Officials in the newly elected government of President René Préval, once an
Aristide ally, declined to comment on the case.

Filed last November, the 74-page suit alleged Aristide ``abused his power and
deceived and betrayed the Haitian people by directing and participating in
ongoing and fraudulent schemes.''

The suit, which never led to any substantive actions, was based on two reports
by Haitian government investigators that accused Aristide of illegally pumping
millions of dollars in public funds into shell companies and into his private

----- End forwarded message -----