Soldiers jailed for Haiti coup atrocity

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The Independent US

Sixteen former soldiers and their henchmen were convicted yesterday, on charges ranging from criminal conspiracy to torture and murder, for a massacre of Haitian slum dwellers in 1994.

Sixteen former soldiers and their henchmen were convicted yesterday, on charges ranging from criminal conspiracy to torture and murder, for a massacre of Haitian slum dwellers in 1994.

Judge Napla Saintil sentenced 12 defendants - eight of them former-soldiers - to life imprisonment with hard labour. Four henchmen were sentenced to between four and nine years in jail. Six people were acquitted. The trial in absentia of 38 exiles - including Raoul Cedras, a former coup leader - charged with masterminding the killings will begin on Monday.

The massacre began when soldiers and paramilitary thugs launched a dawn raid on Raboteau, a seaside shantytown of Gonaives city, bursting into dozens of homes where they beat and arresting people. Some were forced to lie in open sewers. Those who fled to the sea were shot. No one knows how many people died. Witnesses named at least 15 people killed and said dogs ate some bodies, while others were washed out to sea. International pathologists identified the bodies of only three victims

The Raboteau slayings were part of a series of attacks undertaken to break support for the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic slum priest who became the Caribbean country's first democratically elected leader in 1991. (AP)

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