Monday, June 29, 2009

Miami Herald: Bullet Killed Man at Funeral, Not a Rock

I was in the funeral procession for Pere Jean-Juste.

We had come out of the side door of the Cathedral minutes before.

There was no violence.

MINUSTAH should not have come to the Cathedral.

MINUSTAH should not have shot their weapons and given a peace loving priest's funeral a very violent end.

(Photo by John Carroll)

Posted on Mon, Jun. 29, 2009
Police: Haiti marcher killed by bullet in UN clash

Associated Press Writer

Haitian police say a demonstrator found slain after a clash with U.N. peacekeepers during a funeral procession was killed by a bullet, and not by a rock as peacekeepers initially reported.

But the police inspector who shared details of the autopsy report on Monday said ballistics tests are needed to determine who fired the fatal shot. The inspector who viewed the autopsy report spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the autopsy. He did not offer any additional details.

Opponents of the 9,000-member U.N. force are using the death to inflame passions against international troops stationed in Haiti since 2004.

The demonstrator, who remains unidentified, was killed June 18 as about 2,000 people marched with the casket of the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, an advocate for the poor who died in May after years of health problems. He was closely allied with ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

At least five Brazilian soldiers with the 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping mission entered the back of the procession near Port-au-Prince's Notre Dame cathedral on foot to arrest a marcher, who was later released. Other demonstrators threw rocks at the soldiers, who responded by firing at least eight shots into the air before leaving in a jeep.

U.N. peacekeeping spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said Monday that the Brazilian soldiers had some weapons loaded with rubber bullets and others with 7.62-milimeter caliber live ammunition. In television footage of the clash at least eight shots can be heard. It is not clear if all were fired by the soldiers. No one else is seen holding a firearm.

"We are confident that the autopsy reconfirmed that our troops were not responsible for this death," Boutaud de la Combe said. She noted that preliminary information that the protester had been killed by a rock or other blunt instrument were incorrect.

Both the death and the clash that preceded it have only added to growing tension surrounding the U.N. troops. The day before the funeral other protesters also calling for their departure burned a U.N. police vehicle, one of a series of anti-U.N. demonstrations this year.

The U.N. and other diplomats have defended the soldiers' decision to enter the funeral procession on the belief that they were arresting a wanted criminal.

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

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