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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Haiti bodyguards 'beat reporters'
Haitian interim President Boniface Alexandre
Mr Alexandre's security is contracted out to a US firm
Guards working for Haiti's interim leader have been accused of assaulting at least two journalists at a ceremony in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The journalists say they were hit as they tried to cover the inauguration of the Supreme Court, attended by President Boniface Alexandre.

Mr Alexandre's chief of security said the reporters tried to force their way in after arriving late.

He said US company DynCorp had provided the president's bodyguards.

Jean Wilkens Merone, a reporter for Radio Metropole, told the Associated Press news agency he was cursed at and beaten inside the courthouse by a guard.

He said at least one other journalist was attacked.

The head of presidential security, Vladimir Champagne, said several journalists were able to attend the ceremony without any difficulty.

He said he had not seen any beatings.

"We have safety measures that reflect the situation in the country," he said.

"We have to find a way for the president to be safe while the press remains free to report on him."

Politically motivated violence has continued in Haiti despite the presence of more than 7,000 United Nations peacekeepers, installed after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in early 2004.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Haiti in September to warn that preparations for presidential and legislative elections - due on 20 November - were lagging behind.


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