Hearing begins for Haitian police alleged involvement in killing 11 civilians

A hearing began Monday for 13 Haitian police officers detained for their alleged involvement in the killing of at least 11 civilians, authorities said.

The officers were detained during a two-month investigation into the Aug. 20 attack in Martissant, a poor neighborhood of tin-roof shacks in southwestern Port-au-Prince.

The 13 officers were expected to face criminal charges, the head of Haiti's Judiciary Police Michael Lucius told The Associated Press.

A final report into the incident was issued late last week by police inspector Gessy Coicou. The report revises the death toll from six to 11 dead. Five others were badly wounded.

The police report matched several eyewitness accounts and described how police, seeking gang members aligned with ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, stormed a soccer stadium during a match and ordered the crowd of 5,000 to lie on the ground.

Two suspected gang members were killed in crossfire, the report said, but witnesses said only police fired during the incident.

Seven others people were killed by machete-weilding vigilantes as they fled the stadium, the report said. It blamed officers who witnessed the incident for not intervening to stop the slaughter.

Last month, Haitian Police Chief Mario Andresol said nearly three dozen police officers were investigated in the attack.

Andresol took command in July and now has the mammoth task of cleaning up Haiti's corrupt police force of 6,000 officers.

The police chief has said that he suspects over a quarter of his force is involved in criminal activities.

The report into the Aug. 20 killing recommended disciplinary action against 20 officers, including firing the police chief in charge of the capital, the dismissal of several senior officers, and a two-month suspension without pay for over a dozen others.

The report also requested that Haitian authorities investigate how a group of armed vigilantes known as "the little machete army" was allowed to kill civilians on the sidelines of police raids.

Human rights groups have long accused the police force of killing Aristide supporters under the pretext of restoring order to the violent capital ahead of general elections tentatively scheduled in December, AP reported. V.A.

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