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Americans held after Haiti protest

Haiti moved to crack down on a band of former and would-be soldiers who had been staging protests for more than a year, closing two old military bases they had occupied and locking up dozens of participants in a pro-army march including two Americans.

National police spokesman Gary Desrosiers said the Americans were jailed because they were acting as if they were part of Haiti's military during a demonstration to demand that President Michel Martelly restore the country's armed forces, which was abolished in 1995 because of its abusive record.

The march by hundreds of former soldiers and their young recruits in Haiti's capital turned violent and 50 participants were detained.

On Saturday, authorities said Americans Zeke Petrie, 39, of Barberton, Ohio; and Steven Shaw, 57, of Massachusetts, were among those in jail.

Police said they were driving vehicles with pro-army demonstrators in the march when they were picked up a few blocks from the National Palace.

Petrie wore a black T-shirt with the army's name on it and Shaw wore camouflage pants.

"I'm friends with the guys," Petrie said from behind bars at the Canape Vert police station. "These guys are working for the betterment of the country."

Petrie, an occasional interpreter for foreigners, said he had not been formally charged but overheard police say he would be charged with "working with terrorists".


From Belfast Telegraph