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23 juillet 2003

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - An opposition politician jailed on charges of possessing illegal weapons was badly beaten while in police custody, a human rights advocate said Wednesday.

Haitian authorities denied claims that police beat Judith Roy with iron bars and then stomped on her following her arrest last week.

Activists belonging to the National Coalition for Haitian Rights learned of the abuse when they met Roy in a women’s prison Monday, said group member Fito Esperance.

Roy was detained without formal charges at the house just outside Port-au-Prince on July 14, two months after police said they had discovered a cache of arms in her home.

She was charged Friday with illegal possession of arms and conspiracy to destabilize the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. She says she is innocent.

When police detained Roy and three other men who belong to her party, they kicked and pistol-whipped the men, Esperance said.

The four were then taken to a police academy where Roy said she was beaten with iron bars by men in police uniforms, Esperance said.

That evening, Roy told the activists, the prisoners were transferred to a prison where men in civilian clothing stomped on her as she lay face-down on the cell floor.

The activists noticed Roy wasn’t able to move her left hand. Still in pain during Monday’s meeting, she sat and stood with difficulty, Esperance said. She had bruises on the side of her head and said her hearing was damaged by the blows, the activist said.

The men remained in that prison, while Roy was transferred to a women’s prison Friday.

National Security Undersecretary Jean-Gerard Dubreuil denied police had mistreated Roy.

Roy, 39, leads the small Patriotic Assembly for National Revival party and is a former candidate for mayor of Port-au-Prince who was defeated in 2000.

Police searched her home May 7, the day after an armed attack on a hydroelectric plant that left two guards dead in the Caribbean country’s Central Plateau district.

Inside Roy’s house, police said they found assault rifles and plans to attack the National Palace and Aristide’s home. Roy accused police of planting the evidence and said her party is committed to nonviolence.

Esperance also accused police of violating her rights by carrying out the arrest without a warrant, saying ``it violates the fundamental principles of a democratic society.’

Haiti has been in a political stalemate since flawed May 2000 legislative elections swept by Aristide’s party.

Opposition parties have denied government accusations that they are trying to destabilize the government through violence. They have refused to participate in new legislative elections until they are satisfied the government has created a secure environment.

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