PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Hundreds of mourners
escorted the coffins of three young men allegedly killed by police to the
gates of Haiti’s National Palace on Wednesday, demanding that President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide step down.
Brothers Andy Philippe, 20, Angelo Philippe, 22, and Vladimir Sanon,
21, were taken from their home in the capital’s Carrefour section on the
night of Dec. 7 by masked, heavily armed men dressed in uniforms of the
Haitian National Police, relatives and human rights groups said.
The three were later found dead of gunshot wounds, their bodies dumped
in the morgue of the capital’s General Hospital.
Relatives and neighbors said they recognized the masked men’s voices
as those of neighborhood police officers.
“No to impunity! No to insecurity! We demand justice!” the Rev. Max
Dominique said during the funeral service at the capital’s Christ Roi
cathedral on Wednesday.
As the three coffins were placed in hearses, white-clad mourners
collapsed, wailing and convulsing with grief. The hearses and hundreds of
mourners proceeded through the capital to the gates of the National Palace,
where the mourners shouted “We’ve had enough!” and demanded that Aristide
Critics say the killings were the result of a “zero tolerance” policy
against crime announced by Aristide in 2001. They say the policy has given
police a green light to kill or “disappear” government critics or anyone
involved in a personal feud with a police officer.
“This was a summary execution by the police,” said Pierre Esperance,
director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights. “We are demanding
the arrest of the police who took part in this.”
A Haitian National Police report on the killings released this month
characterized them as a “crime of passion” but acknowledged the likelihood
of police involvement and recommended the arrest of two officers.
The officers have not been arrested and are alleged by police to have
fled. The police chief of the Carrefour precinct has since been reassigned.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was first elected in 1990
but ousted in a coup months later. U.S. troops helped restore him to power