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Haiti Bars Former Government Members From Leaving Country - 2004-03-27

Haiti's new justice minister says he will bar 37 members of the former government from leaving the country.

Justice Minister Bernard Gousse said that the move is "an insurance policy" to ensure the officials will be available for future investigations. He said the probes would look into crimes allegedly committed by the former government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide - who fled the country in late February in the face of armed insurrection.

Among the officials barred from leaving Haiti are former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, ex-Police Chief Jocelyn Pierre, and former Central Bank head Venel Joseph.

Meanwhile, leaders of Caribbean nations decided Saturday, to withhold recognition of the new Haitian government. They also repeated calls for a United Nations investigation into the ouster of President Aristide.

Leaders of the 15-nation Caribbean Community are upset because Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerald Latortue threatened to freeze ties with the regional body and because he referred to Haitian rebels as "freedom fighters." They said "no action should be taken to legitimize the rebel forces."