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Haiti prison riot: 400 prisoners missing, Aristide sympathizers recaptured

[JURIST] Haitian police are still hunting several hundred prisoners who escaped when an armed commando attacked Haiti's national penitentiary in what sources close to Haiti's president are calling an attempt to free those "imprisoned for money crimes," an apparent reference to drug traffickers and kidnappers. In the melee following the attack Yvon Neptune and Jocelerme Privert, respectively the former Prime Minister and former Minister of the Interior under exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide [BBC News profile], were swept up in the crowd of prisoners heading for the exit. Media sources conflict on what happened next: French newspaper Le Monde reports that they escaped and contacted several embassies to request political asylum [Le Monde report in French]. This enabled police to locate them and transport them to a secret location where they are now guarded by police and UN peacekeepers. However, according to AP, Chilean ambassador Marcel Young met with both men and disputes this story. AP sources suggest the imprisoned former cabinet members were taken by guards to a secret safe location and then returned to prison. The two prominent prisoners have been held without charges [BBC News report] since mid-2004 on suspicion of involvement in the February 2004 killings of Aristide opponents, a situation that has prompted criticism [Haiti Action news release] around the globe. Radio station Radio Caraibes has local coverage [in French] on the situation on the ground. AP has more on Neptune and Privert.

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