JO - Bodies of 24 Haitians found in Dom Rep
Bodies of 24 Haitians found in Dom Rep
Thursday, January 12, 2006
SANTO DOMINGO (AP) - The bodies of 24 Haitian migrants, who apparently died of asphyxiation crossing the border in a sealed truck, have been found in the Dominican Republic, police said yesterday.
The victims were among 69 Haitians, mostly grown men, driven across the border illegally at the northern town of Dajabon, said police spokesman General Simon Diaz.
"Preliminary investigations indicate that the Haitians suffocated in the vehicle and that the people who transported them later disposed of the bodies," said Diaz.
Eleven of the bodies were found on Tuesday in La Mina de Cacheo, and the remaining 13 yesterday in Los Guayacanes, police said. Both villages are about 370 kilometres (230 miles) northeast of the capital, Santo Domingo.
Police detained truck driver, Elvis Rodriguez Ortiz, and his assistant, Esteban Martinez Rosario, both Dominican nationals. A joint police and army commission was investigating the deaths, Diaz said.
Plans have been drawn up to increase the 1,000-member Dominican force patrolling the porous 243-mile (391-kilometre) border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
About one million Haitians, many of them illegal immigrants, live in the Dominican Republic, home to 8.8 million people.The Dominican Republic has relied on Haitian labour for decades to cut sugar cane, harvest coffee beans and to work in construction.
Historic tensions have increased recently between the two nations, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.In December, Dominican villagers burned about 20 shacks occupied by Haitian migrants in reprisal for their alleged involvement in the killing of a businessman.
In May, the Dominican government deported at least 2,000 Haitians after the killing of a Dominican woman. No one was arrested for the murder, but Dominicans went on a retaliatory rampage, beheading two Haitians.