Haitian lawmaker arrested upon returning from France

28th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Around 50 Haitian lawmakers gathered late Thursday outside a prison in the capital Port-au-Prince to protest the arrest of one of their colleagues on his arrival back in the country.

Police arrested Arnel Belizaire after he stepped off a flight from Paris that landed at Port-au-Prince international airport and took him straight to a a prison cell in the National Penitentiary in the city centre, officials said.

The lawmaker's name featured on a list of 10 Haitians wanted for by police.

Belizaire traveled to Paris last week following an invitation "in the context of a parliamentary mission," said a spokesperson from the French embassy in Haiti.

Some of Belizaire's fellow lawmakers were outraged by the arrest.

"Our colleague was arbitrarily arrested, he enjoys parliamentary immunity -- the procedures were not followed," said Haitian deputy Stevenson Timoleon, who gathered with other lawmakers outside the prison.

"We are facing a political rift in Haiti," an angry Timoleon told AFP.

Prosecutor Felix Light had written to the Chamber of Deputies asking that Belizaire -- who according to Light escaped from prison in 2005 -- be handed over to the authorities.

Haitian President Michel Martelly recently denounced the "ex-convicts that have taken refuge in the Haitian Parliament" following a heated discussion with Belizaire during a meeting at the presidential palace.

© 2011 AFP

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