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HAITI DENIES OFFICIAL PLOTTED ASSASSINATION

Allegations that Haiti's interior minister plotted to assassinate a prominent opposition leader are "trumped up," and the FBI can corroborate this, the government says.

The American general who commanded the multinational force in Haiti had warned the Haitian justice minister of a conspiracy to kill Mireille Durocher Bertin and that Interior Secretary Mondesir Beau-brun had been implicated in the plot.The government statement denying Beaubrun's involvement said two hitmen he is accused of hiring were agents of the former military-installed regime. The statement was released to state TV Tuesday by an unidentified top government official.

Some observers think Bertin, a right-wing lawyer and a top official in the former regime, was assassinated to discredit President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and embarrass the United States, which restored him to power in October.

The FBI is investigating the slaying, and five specialists from the U.S. Army Institute of Pathology arrived in Haiti to conduct a post-mortem on Bertin's body.

"The result of the FBI and Haitian investigation disproves the trumped-up account" against Beaubrun, the government statement said.

American officials had no immediate comment on the Haitian statement. Beaubrun has denied any involvement in Bertin's March 28 death.

In a letter dated six days before Bertin was killed, Maj. Gen. George Fischer wrote to Justice Minister Jean Joseph Exume that Beaubrun was alleged to be involved in a conspiracy to kill her.

"We do not know whether or not these allegations are true," Fischer wrote in a copy of the March 22 letter obtained by The Associated Press. "However, the fact that a minister has been implicated is especially serious."

Fischer said a Haitian interpreter with the multinational force, Claude Douge, had told force officials that a man named Patric Moise told him he had been hired by Beaubrun to assassinate Bertin and was given an Uzi submachine to carry out the task. Douge surrendered an Uzi submachine gun to the U.S.-led troops, Fischer wrote.