December 26, 2001

Haiti arrests U.S. man in connection with coup attempt

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) --Police detained a U.S. citizen in connection with
last week's attempted coup, police and a relative said Wednesday.

Antoine Saati, 47, the Haitian-born chief executive of Miami-based import-export
company One World, was arrested Thursday, said his sister, Gina Saati, who lives in
Miami and is the company's vice president.

Police spokesman Jean-Dady Simeon confirmed that Saati was being held for
questioning in connection with the December 17 attack by more than 20 armed men
on the National Palace, but he would not give further information about what role
police believe he played.

"Antoine has nothing to do with the coup d'etat," Gina Saati said. She said her
husband was likely imprisoned because he is involved in litigation with people linked
to the government.

Saati has been in a Port-au-Prince hospital under police guard since Sunday. He was
allegedly beaten by police and went on a hunger strike, his sister said.

There have been three other confirmed detentions -- suspected attacker Pierre
Richardson and alleged coup plotter Guy Francois and the caretaker of a house
where police believe attackers stayed before the incident.

Simeon said police have detained several other people in connection with the coup
plot, but he would not say how many.

In the early morning hours of December 17, about two dozen gunmen stormed the
palace and took control for about seven hours before police regained control.
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was not at the palace at the time.

At least 10 people were killed and nine wounded in the palace attack and subsequent
violence. Five of those killed were attackers and two were police officers.

Authorities confirmed Wednesday they arrested the caretaker of a Port-au-Prince
house where a dozen suspected attackers stayed. Jean Dumel, 36, was being held at
a suburban police station since his detention Friday and was likely to be charged
with complicity, Simeon said.

Police were seeking the house's owner, Albert Dorelien, whose brother was a
colonel in Haiti's disbanded army. Officials said the palace attackers wore the
fatigues of the former army, which ousted Aristide in a 1991 coup during his first
presidential term. U.S. troops restored Aristide to power in 1994.

The opposition has accused the government of staging the palace attack as a pretext
to crack down on dissenters.

Also on Wednesday, the Haitian foreign ministry sent a letter to the neighboring
Dominican Republic asking for more cooperation in stopping alleged coup plotters
from fleeing there, Dominican Foreign Minister Hugo Tolentino Dipp said

Suspected coup plotter Guy Philippe, a former police official, fled to the Dominican
Republic in October 2000 with six other police officers accused of trying to
overthrow the government. Philippe has been implicated in last week's attack.

Philippe has denied involvement in the coup plots.

Philippe was in the Dominican Republic when the palace was attacked and went to
Ecuador shortly after. Haiti asked Ecuador to extradite him, but the country returned
him to the Dominican Republic.

Tolentino said if police find Philippe, they will expel him from the Dominican
Republic, but he would not say where he would be sent.

 Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.