Machine gun-wielding assassins killed a top legal strategist for the military government just days before President Bill Clinton is to arrive to mark the United Nations takeover of peacekeeping duties in Haiti.
Mireille Durocher Bertin and a client of her husband were gunned down Tuesday afternoon as they drove down Pouplard Avenue, a busy downtown street. A Canadian police officer at the scene told reporters that two assailants passed by in a taxi and sprayed the car with machinegun fire, killing Bertin and her companion, identified as Junior Baillerjeaux.
Bertin, a mother of four in her 30s, served briefly as the chief of staff of the Army-backed government of Emile Jonassaint, whose de facto presidency ended with U.S. military intervention in September 1994. But Bertin was most effective as a legal mastermind for the military rulers, constructing elaborate legal rationales for the September 1991 Army coup against then-President JeanBertrand Aristide.
Aristide was restored to power a month after the arrival of U.S. troops.
Bertin’s husband, Jean, told reporters that his wife had been receiving death threats for nearly a week.
He did not immediately blame anyone for the crime, but questioned whether the Aristide government could conduct a fair inquiry and suggested that U.S. officials investigate instead.
A fervent opponent of Aristide’s, Mireille Bertin wrote the legal briefs for the expulsion of the U.S. human rights commission in June 1994. And in the final days before U.S. troops arrived, she called for Aristide to be tried for treason and for caretakerPrime Minister Robert Malval to be arrested, because both had suggested an international resolution to the Haiti crisis.