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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 22:48 GMT 23:48 UK
Star Haitian journalist murdered
UN peacekeeper standing next to a bus full of Haitian civilians
7,000 UN peacekeepers have failed to halt the violence
One of Haiti's best-known journalists and poets, Jacques Roche, has been found murdered, police say.

Mr Roche, who presented a popular television show and wrote for a newspaper, was kidnapped last week.

His handcuffed and mutilated body was found in a slum district of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.

Mr Roche is the latest victim of a wave of kidnappings in Haiti, which come as UN peacekeepers struggle to control a volatile security situation.

Police say more than 450 people have been kidnapped since March.

Correspondents say the unrest is increasing concern about whether elections will be able to go ahead as planned later this year.

Ransom demand

Mr Roche had been tortured and shot several times. His arms, handcuffed behind his back, had been broken and burned and his body was covered in blood.

He had been kidnapped on Sunday morning while driving his car in the Nazon area of Port-au-Prince.

Most abductions in Haiti are carried out for money, with the victim usually being released after a ransom is paid.

According to Mr Roche's colleagues at the Le Matin newspaper his kidnappers had made a ransom demand of $250,000 which was later scaled back to $10,000.

"His relatives and friends had collected $10,000 that was sent to the kidnappers," journalist Chenald Augustin said.

"Then they said they were waiting for the $240,000 remaining."

Mr Roche was in charge of the cultural section of Le Matin newspaper as well as a talk show host on local TV and a radio sports commentator.

A 7,000-strong contingent of UN peacekeepers has struggled to maintain order in Haiti since the ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's former leader, who was overthrown in an armed uprising last year.


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