The Miami Herald
January 14, 2002

Miami businessman freed in Haiti


 Miami businessman Antoine Saati, detained without charges in Haiti for more than three weeks, was released on Monday by a judge investigating what the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has called a failed coup attempt.

 According to his family in Miami, the judge cleared Saati of any involvement in the apparent coup, in which armed men attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince.

 ``He is a free man,'' said his delighted sister, Gina Saati, who helps her brother run the family's import-export company in Miami, One World. ``He's been cleared totally. The paper the judge signed says Mr. Saati was not involved. They say it was a mistake. We are very happy.''

 A spokesman for the Haitian national police could not be reached Monday.

 Haitian police arrested Antoine Saati on Dec. 20, as he attempted to serve legal papers on a former employee he is suing for fraud. The police said Saati was wanted for questioning in connection with the attack on the palace three days earlier. Saati and his family insisted he was not involved, blaming the former employee instead for engineering Antoine's arrest to deter him from pursuing the legal case.

 Saati remained detained -- most of the time in a private hospital because of health problems -- even though no charges were ever filed against him. As court appearances were postponed several times, U.S. officials pressed Haitian authorities for an explanation.

 Gina Saati credited her brother's release to intervention from U.S. diplomatic officials in Haiti and U.S. Sens. Bill Graham and Bill Nelson, both Florida Democrats.

                                    © 2002