A former Haitian dictator who escaped a raid on his home in Port-au-Prince has been granted asylum by Colombia.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday night that Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril and his wife, Marie-Ange, would be allowed political asylum, “taking into account the urgent circumstances.”
Avril ruled Haiti from 1988 until he was ousted in a popular uprising in 1990. Claiming persecution, he and his wife requested asylum Nov. 8 at the Colombian embassy in the Haitian capital.
The couple is believed to be at the embassy in Port-au-Prince. The granting of political asylum normally would ensure them safe conduct out of the country.
Avril’s home was raided on Nov. 7, hours after a Haitian lawmaker and former bodyguard of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Rep. Jean-Hubert Feuille, was shot to death. Avril’s family has not been linked to the killing.
The raid occurred at midnight despite a constitutional prohibition on nighttime house raids. Avril’s daughter and son-in-law were arrested and charged with illegally possessing a handgun that the family says was properly licensed.
Aristide has blamed former soldiers who have not been disarmed for Feuille’s killing and ordered a nationwide disarmament campaign.
That has led to violence in which at least seven people were killed and 10 wounded as protesters plundered and burned dozens of homes and searched for arms and activists sympathetic to the former military regime.
On Thursday, police arrested Avril’s brother, Jean, also presumably on charges of illegally possessing arms.
Avril’s daughter, Karine, and her husband, Paul-Henri Cineas, are in jail awaiting trial.