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Disney worker deported to Haiti for massacre

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Crime, Law and Justice

MIAMI, Florida (Reuters) -- A former Haitian military chief who worked on tourist boats at Florida's Disney World for five years was arrested for deportation to Haiti, where he is wanted for murder, U.S. authorities said Thursday.

Jean-Claude Duperval was assistant commander in chief of the Haitian army during the bloody military dictatorship of the early 1990s.

He was convicted in absentia of murder in November 2000 and sentenced to life in prison for his role in one of Haiti's most notorious massacres.

"The arrest is a historic victory for those fighting for justice in Haiti and for the effort to ensure that the U.S. is not a safe haven for human rights violators," said Brian Concannon, a U.S. lawyer who prosecuted those accused in the massacre for the Haitian government.

The U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals denied Duperval's final appeal on January 7, allowing immigration officials to deport him. He was arrested at his Orlando home Wednesday and was being held in the Orange County Jail.

"He will probably be deported immediately," said Pam McCullough, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tampa.

Concannon said Duperval is the highest ranking of four high command members arrested in Florida in the last few years. Two have been returned to Haiti.

Duperval was convicted in an April 1994 rampage by soldiers and paramilitaries through the seaside slum of Raboteau in the city of Gonaives. About 25 men, women and children were killed.

Human rights groups estimate that 3,000 people were killed in the three years the military ruled Haiti, from the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 to his restoration by a U.S.-led military intervention force in 1994.

Duperval worked in the watercraft division at Disney World in central Florida from 1997 to 2002, said Rena Langley, a spokeswoman for the tourist attraction.

"He was considered a good employee," she said. "We had no knowledge of his background while he was here."

She declined to say if Duperval resigned or was dismissed.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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