Revolt leader shot dead after stand-off with Haiti's police

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One of the leaders of the revolt that led to the ousting of the Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide one year ago has been killed in a shoot-out with police in the latest outburst of violence to rock the country.

One of the leaders of the revolt that led to the ousting of the Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide one year ago has been killed in a shoot-out with police in the latest outburst of violence to rock the country.

Remissainthe Ravix, who led a rag-tag militia made up of former soldiers, was killed by Haitian police in an industrial area of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Journalists who saw Mr Ravix body in the city's decrepit mortuary said it was lying with his hands splayed about his head and his white T-shirt was soaked in blood.

"We expect there might be retaliation by the remainder of this group," said Dan Moskaluk, a spokesman for the UN civilian police in the country, which was apparently not involved in the shooting on Saturday.

Mr Ravix was one of four leaders involved in the month-long revolt last year that led to the ousting of the democratically elected Mr Aristide. Some of the leaders of the revolt, which included some of the country's business interests, had received support from the US. At the same time, the US, which had long undermined Mr Aristide's presidency, flatly refused to provide help to put down the uprising.

During the uprising, Mr Ravix, a former sergeant in the discredited Haitian army which Mr Aristide disbanded in 1995, would speak to reporters wearing military fatigues. His group had recently been demanding back-pay and compensation from the government of interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

Officials said Mr Ravix was killed as the result of a search by Haitian and UN police for suspects in a shooting last Friday which left a UN employee from India wounded.

Police said they saw 10 armed men fleeing from an area in the Delmas district of the city and they gave chase. The men were cornered in a building in a nearby industrial area and a gunfight ensued.

Police said they had been searching for Mr Ravix for several weeks, accusing him of killing four policemen in February and orchestrating attacks on police stations last year. He had proclaimed his innocence and gone into hiding and was believed to be based in Haiti's central plateau. He was also accused of carrying out attacks on supporters of Mr Aristide.

Mr Ravix's death comes days before a UN Security Council visit to Haiti to assess conditions ahead of elections that are planned for the autumn.

More than 400 people have been killed since September in clashes often involving gangs, former soldiers, police and UN peacekeepers. The interim government has been accused by human rights groups of attacking supporters of Mr Aristide's Lavalas party. Mr Aristide, who is living in exile in South Africa, retains huge popularity among Haiti's poor and many would like to see him return.

In a recent message he told them: "I hear your voices dear sisters and brothers. Your call for peace echoes my call for peace. Your cry for justice reiterates my call for justice. The return will happen through a peaceful process of dialogue in which we stand ready to engage."

In reality, it is all but impossible Mr Aristide will return ­ certainly not as the country's president. Senior figures within the Lavalas party are currently debating whether or not to boycott the autumn election and who, if anyone, should be their party's candidate for president. Some observers believe that Fr Gerard Jean-Juste, a parish priest and friend of Mr Aristide, could emerge as the nominee.

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