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Peacekeepers in 'sex assault' probe

Several hundred Haitians have demonstrated in support of an 18-year-old man who said he was sexually assaulted by peacekeepers from Uruguay on a UN base along the southern coast of Haiti.

The alleged attack occurred on July 20 but only became public last week when a video taken by mobile phone was circulated and the United Nations announced an investigation.

The Uruguayan military has called the incident a prank that got out of hand and said a preliminary UN investigation shows no evidence of rape.

Haitian president Michel Martelly "vigorously condemned" the alleged assault in the town of Port-Salut, saying in a statement that it was an "act that revolts the national conscience".

Protesters in Port-Salut called for reparations over the alleged assault, which threatened to worsen the reputation of the UN in Haiti.

Many Haitians view the world body as an occupying force and are still angry over a cholera outbreak that was inadvertently brought to the country by peacekeepers from Nepal last year.

In a statement on Sunday, the Uruguayan defence ministry said a UN preliminary investigation had found that the men did not sexually abuse the Haitian teen but that they committed misconduct by allowing a civilian into their barracks and could face severe penalties.

The video of the encounter is clearly sexual in nature. However, a UN spokeswoman in Haiti, Eliane Nabaa, said the UN had not come to any conclusions.

Dr Clifford Gauthier, a physician who examined the young man a month after the alleged attack, said he found evidence that was consistent with signs of sexual abuse even five weeks after the attack.

He said he asked the young man why he waited so long for treatment and did not get an answer.

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