Several dozen Haitian former soldiers were arrested following protests pushing for restoring the country’s army, it was reported.
The ex-soldiers were charged with forming a rogue army and disregarding government orders to take off their uniforms, Reuters reported. Haiti’s army was disbanded in 1995 by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who said coups and human rights abuses committed by soldiers needed to stop.
“They were parading outside the presidential palace in olive green military uniform and some were carrying weapons,” Michaelange Gedeon, a police official, told the news agency.
On Friday and Saturday, several thousand former soldiers turned out, with police arresting around 59, the news agency said.
Two Americans were arrested as well and are accused of being drivers for a group of former soldiers on Friday, The Associated Press reported.
Jason William Petrie, 39, of Ohio and Steven Parker Shaw, 57, of Massachusetts have been accused of “providing logistical support,” Reginald Delva, Haiti’s Secretary of State for Public Security, told AP. Petrie was also wearing an army T-shirt and Shaw was wearing camouflage pants.
Ben Petrie, Jason’s brother, told AP that “there wasn’t some American plotting against the government or causing instability. I think he got in a little over his head.”
“I don’t know what he was thinking but I can say unequivocally that there was no conspiracy,” he added.