Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The police have launched an investigation into the killing of a journalist in the pro-Aristide slum of Village de Dieu (God ‘s Village) on 14 January, a police spokeswoman has announced.

An internal investigation is under way, Jessie Coicou said.

She admitted that police shot Abdias Jean but denied his killing was ordered by the police high command.

Jean and several youngsters were killed when heavily armed policemen raided Village de Dieu, a Port-au-Prince shantytown believed to be a bastion of gangs loyal to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was driven into exile during an armed revolt last year. They were described by officers as bandits killed in an exchange of gunfire.

However, Ronald St-Jean, an activist with the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of the Haitian People, said an officer shot Jean after he witnessed police killing three youngsters during the raid.

Several other residents corroborated his story.

“The police called three young men that were coming out of a corridor. The police were pressing the youngsters to tell them where armed bandits were hiding,” said Maxon Beauduy, who said he saw the incident from inside his house. “When they (the youngsters) said they did not know, the police killed them after blaming them for hiding criminals.”

Another witness, Magalie Jean, said that as she took cover, she heard Jean screaming, “Don’t kill me, I am a journalist. Why should I be killed like that?”

“Then I heard a series of gunshots and it was over for him,” she said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) said it had launched an inquiry into abuses by police here.

Investigators would pay special attention to pro-Aristide slums in the capital, spokesman Damian Onces-Cardon said. He did not say when the investigation would be completed or when the results of the investigation would released.