A Haitian television station broadcast video Friday that provided new details on a deadly confrontation between U.N. peacekeepers and mourners for a popular priest allied with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The Thursday clash, in which a young man was killed, could
exacerbate tensions between Haitians and the 9,000-member
international force that has been in Haiti since an uprising forced
Aristide into exile in 2004. Protesters incensed with the presence
of foreign troops burned a U.N. vehicle in a nearby neighborhood
the day before.
The video did not appear to show what happened to the man,
showing only some U.N. soldiers arresting another man and firing
shots into the air.
The station, Radio Tele Ginen, did not comment on the video, but
quoted lawmakers and witnesses repeating charges that Brazilian
soldiers fired a bullet that struck the man in the face and killed
U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaise reiterated the United Nations'
position that the soldiers did not kill the marcher. He said the
fatal injury was caused by a blunt object such as a rock, not a
bullet. He did not say what evidence the U.N. used to reach that
The U.N. earlier acknowledged its soldiers fired warning shots,
but Blaise said he did not know if they used live ammunition or
rubber bullets - a potentially lethal but less dangerous projectile
typically used by peacekeepers during demonstrations.
The confrontation occurred beside Port-au-Prince's cathedral
during the funeral march for the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a champion
of the poor and close supporter of Aristide. Jean-Juste died May 27
in Miami following complications from a stroke.
About 2,000 people were marching with Jean-Juste's casket to the
nearby presidential palace to demand Aristide's return and
President Rene Preval's resignation when U.N. soldiers walked into
the back of the procession.
In the video shown by Radio Tele Ginen, five Brazilian soldiers
are seen arresting a protester wearing dreadlocks and a T-shirt
from Jean-Juste's Veye Yo organization.
As they lead him toward their open-top jeep other marchers throw
rocks at the soldiers, who periodically turn and fire their assault
rifles into the air. Six gunshots are heard.
The soldiers load the protester into the truck and fire two more
shots as they drive away, followed by a Haitian police vehicle.
As the camera pans around, bystanders and protesters come out of
hiding from behind cars and walls. Within seconds some spot the
young man lying unconscious in a pool of blood and a crowd,
including an Associated Press photographer, gathers around. He
appears to be breathing for several minutes while bleeding
profusely from around the mouth and head.
The victim remains unidentified. He was said by other protesters
to be nicknamed "Junior" and live in an area near the capital's
Bel Air slum.
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